Standard Chartered: "Three Factors Will Drive Gold To $5,000"

A report was released by Standard Chartered that came to the conclusion that $5,000 will only be a matter of time. Limited gold production, China and India demand, buying by central banks and global uncertainty are all factors leading to the increasing price of gold.

Submitted by Tyler Durden
06/14/2011 09:25 -0400
ZERO HEDGE

Following less than parabolic moves higher in the precious metals complex over the past several weeks has extinguished some of the fervor in the space, which of course is welcome: a slow, gradual increase which does not provoke the CME's attention is far better for the boiling free than a sudden surge in prices. Yet the recent period of stability may soon be over. Standard Chartered has just released a report which looks at actual gold breakeven prices, production bottlenecks, central bank interest, and Chinese and Indian buying, and comes to the conclusion that $5,000 gold may just be a matter of time. To wit: "The limited supply comes at a time when central banks have completely changed their tune on selling down their gold stocks and now appear likely to accelerate their net buying programmes. China is way behind the curve. Currently, only 1.8% of China’s foreign exchange reserves is in gold; if the country were to bring this proportion in line with the global average of 11%, it would have to buy 6,000 more tonnes of gold, equivalent to more than 2 years of gold production. We believe that these factors – limited gold production, buying by central banks and increasing demand from India and China – can potentially drive the gold price to US$5,000/oz, as highlighted in our commodity team’s earlier report." And what according to Std. Chartered is the best way to capitalize on this undervaluation: "We believe the best ways to invest in the gold cycle are buying physical gold (a safe asset) or investing in junior gold miners (highest leverage to the gold price) that are 1-2 years away from production." Perhaps the current price 66% lower is therefore not a bad entry point...

From the report:

We are bullish on gold. Most market commentary on gold has centred on the direction of US dollar movements or inflation/deflation issues. We go beyond this to examine future mine supply, which we think is just as important a driver. Our comprehensive study of 375 gold projects supply suggests a very limited production growth profile for the next five years. A ten-year bull market in gold has done little to drive gold production. The gold miners are running to stand still. A lack of funding from equity markets and a shortage of large gold mines makes it difficult for the industry to compensate for the depletion caused by aging mines and falling grades. In our base case, our 375-mine supply model shows net production growth of 3.6% pa. over the next five years.

Our IRR analysis shows that for the major gold projects under construction, for which the acquisition cost of gold resources has already been spent, the gold price would need to be US$1,400/oz in order to generate a 20% IRR, which is usually the minimum return requirement. For greenfield projects going forward, the gold price would need to be nearly US$2,000/oz to produce an IRR of 20%. We believe this daunting hurdle will likely further delay gold production.

The limited supply comes at a time when central banks have completely changed their tune on selling down their gold stocks and now appear likely to accelerate their net buying programmes. China is way behind the curve. Currently, only 1.8% of China’s foreign exchange reserves is in gold; if the country were to bring this proportion in line with the global average of 11%, it would have to buy 6,000 more tonnes of gold, equivalent to more than 2 years of gold production.

We believe that these factors – limited gold production, buying by central banks and increasing demand from India and China – can potentially drive the gold price to US$5,000/oz, as highlighted in our commodity team’s earlier report, Gold – Super-cycle to extend above US$2,100/oz (17 April 2011).

We believe the best ways to invest in the gold cycle are buying physical gold (a safe asset) or investing in junior gold miners (highest leverage to the gold price) that are 1-2 years away from production. We are cautious about the gold majors. Project plans of the big five gold producers by market cap suggest an average production CAGR of only 4% in the next five years. They need to depend on expensive acquisitions in order to grow further. As a form of affirmation, the share price index we constructed for the gold majors underperformed the gold price by 147ppt over 1995-2011.

Full report:
In Gold We Trust 061411

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