Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election was a blow for commodity stocks, triggering a sharp sell-off yesterday. The pound flew on hopes that a clear victory on 8 June would strengthen her hand in Brexit talks, but stronger sterling means that UK-listed mining stocks’ foreign earnings will be worth that much less.
The sell-off hit FTSE 250-listed mining companies Ferrexpo (LSE: FXPO) and Vedanta Resources (LSE: VED), which both fell around 7%. That won’t trouble company shareholders, who have enjoyed massive gains over the past year. Could there be more to come?
Swiss iron ore miner Ferrexpo’s share price is up an astonishing 369% over the past year. At one point, it posted yearly growth of 900%, as it snapped back from the 2015 commodity sector blow-off and a feared civil war in the Ukraine, where it owns the largest iron ore deposit in Europe with approximately 20bn tonnes.
Down with debt
This £837m company therefore gives you full-on exposure to the iron ore price, which is enjoying a mini-rally today, driving the share price up 3.64% at time of writing and recovering most of yesterday’s losses. 2016 was a tougher year than its roaring share price suggests, as management worked to restructure the firm and successfully ‘retired’ some $196m of debt.
Ferrexpo has worked hard to drive down production costs, boost efficiency and pay off debt, to withstand volatile commodity prices. However, production costs of $29 a tonne are double those at larger rivals such as Rio Tinto. With the IMF now more bullish on the global economy, investors can now hope for rising steel demand, further boosting last year’s record sales volumes of about 11.7m tonnes (up from 11.3m in 2015).
Expect a bumpy ride, with earnings per share (EPS) forecast to rise 61% this year, then to crunch 42% in 2018. But what else would you expect from a mono-focused miner? Trading at a forecast 3.3 times earnings with a well-covered yield of 3.6%, there is scope for further success.
While Ferrexpo is all about the iron, Vedanta Resources is massively diversified across zinc, lead, silver, copper, iron ore, aluminium and now oil and gas through recent acquisition Cairn Energy. It is primarily focused on the fast-growing Indian economy but also with interests across Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Ireland, Liberia and Australia.
Unsurprisingly, given its larger £1.93bn market cap and wider country and commodity spread, it hasn’t grown 900% in the last year but is still up a more than respectable 90%. It is also exposed to global economic fortunes, and swings in the value of the pound, and while the former may prove a tailwind in the months ahead, the latter may produce unwelcome headwinds, if sterling’s recovery continues.
Management has been shoring up the balance sheet and cutting costs, as well as ramping up production of aluminium, zinc, silver and copper to record highs and announcing record interim dividends in March. The share price is down 30% in the last three months which makes now a tempting entry point, reducing the forecast valuation to 7.6 times earnings, while the yield is a forecast 5.5%.
Anticipated EPS growth of 178% in the year to 31 March 2018 looks like another strong reason to buy. Let the share price craziness continue.
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Harvey Jones has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.