2 miners I’d buy ahead of Sirius Minerals plc: Centamin plc and Highland Gold Mining Ltd

One of the success stories of 2016 so far has been the soaring price of gold. It has risen by around 18% since the turn of the year and this has caused the share prices of a number of gold mining companies to soar. For example, Centamin (LSE: CEY) is up by 74% and Highland Gold (LSE: HGM) has risen by 66% year-to-date.

Looking ahead, there could be further share price rises to come. A key reason for that is the uncertainty which continues to exist among investors. A number of major risks currently face the global economy, with US interest rate rises, a slowing China and the potential for a Brexit all likely to cause considerable volatility and potentially even fear among investors. As a result of this, gold could become increasingly popular as investors seek out a perceived store of wealth during turbulent economic times.

Price rises ahead?

Due to this potentially upbeat outlook for gold, Centamin and Highland Gold could see their share prices rise yet further. In the case of Centamin, it’s currently in the process of ramping up production as it seeks to produce around 500,000 ounces of gold in 2017. And with its bottom line forecast to rise by 35% in the current year it trades on a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of just 0.4. This indicates that Centamin offers a sufficiently wide margin of safety to merit investment at the present time.

Similarly, Highland Gold has a relatively appealing risk/reward ratio. It’s expected to increase its bottom line by 47% in the next financial year and this puts its shares on a PEG ratio of just 0.1. Certainly, Highland Gold is a relatively small business and so it’s likely to be riskier than a more diversified and more financially stable peer. However, this seems to be adequately priced-in to its valuation and it could continue to soar.

One for the long run

Meanwhile, Sirius Minerals (LSE: SXX) has enjoyed a strong first part of 2016. Its shares have risen by 27% year-to-date as investors continue to be upbeat regarding its long-term potential. And with it intent on building a £1bn-plus potash mine in York and recording relatively positive crop study results, Sirius Minerals could become a very profitable mining play in the long run.

However, with Centamin and Highland Gold set to deliver impressive profit growth right now and having such attractively priced shares, they seem to be better buys than Sirius Minerals. Furthermore, with investors being uncertain and having the potential to become more so in the coming months, gold miners could act as a hedge against falling share prices due to their link to the price of gold.

Therefore, while Sirius minerals may be of interest to less risk-averse investors, Centamin and Highland Gold seem to offer the more compelling investment cases at the present time.

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Peter Stephens owns shares of Centamin. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.