Chatter concerning how many rate rises the Federal Reserve will undertake in 2017 has dominated financial markets in recent days and, following Friday’s blowout non-farm payrolls numbers, consensus seems to suggest at least a few could be in the offing.
Gold edged to its cheapest since late January, below $1,200 per ounce, after last week’s positive employment data all-but confirmed a rate hike at this week’s upcoming Fed meeting.
But metal prices remain broadly stable as the market appears to have factored-in the likelihood of three rate rises this year — indeed, the US dollar has actually lost some ground in Monday business as a further sign that this news is already baked-in.
Of course gold values could come under pressure later in the year should the US economy continue to steam higher and raise the prospect that central bank action could actually surpass current predictions. But I believe there is still plenty of instability that could propel gold higher in the months ahead, from the complicated Brexit saga through to further turbulence from the newly-minted Trump administration.
Latest World Gold Council data in recent days certainly underlined the enduring strength of safe-haven demand for gold in the current environment. This showed total holdings in gold-backed ETFs and similar products stand at 2,246.1 tonnes as of the close of February, up 4% month-on-month.
This all bodes well for Britain’s listed gold diggers like Randgold Resources (LSE: RRS). The City has already forecast earnings rises of 24% and 23% in 2017 and 2018 respectively on the back of robust precious metal prices and a sliding cost base.
And these estimates could receive significant upgrades down the line should, as I expect, current geopolitical and macroeconomic turbulence persist and keep bullion products well bought.
I also reckon fleet-footed investors could steal a march on the broader market by buying into Hikma Pharmaceuticals (LSE: HIK) before this week’s trading statement. Full-year numbers are scheduled for Wednesday, March 15.
The Jordanian manufacturer endured a difficult time in 2016 as volumes from its Generics arm have disappointed. Consequently a 33% earnings decline is predicted by City analysts.
But sales of Hikma’s generics products are expected to gallop from 2017 onwards, and the company’s West-Ward Columbus subsidiary rolled out its own alternative to the Pristiq depression battler — named Desvenlafaxine Succinate — just last week. The company said that industry sales of the generic product registered at $853m in 2016 alone.
With business already ticking steadily higher at Hikma’s Injectables and Branded divisions, the number crunchers expect earnings to canter 37% higher this year before rising an extra 29% in 2018. And the company’s promising pipeline could lead to further solid bottom-line growth further out.
So even if this week’s market update does not yield anything new, I reckon Hikma’s share price could surge in the months and years ahead should its sales outlook continue to steadily improve.
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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Hikma Pharmaceuticals. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.