Teck Resources Ltd. in 5 Charts

By Reuben Gregg Brewer Markets Fool.com

Teck Resources Ltd. (NYSE: TECK) isn't as well-known as some of its giant mining peers. However, investors examining the industry shouldn't overlook the Canadian miner. That's especially true now that the downtrend in commodities appears to have ended. Here are five charts that help explain why Teck should be on your short list today.

Continue Reading Below

Image source: Teck resources

1. Debt reduction

One of Teck Resources' biggest problems during the commodity downturn was debt. Management chose to move ahead with a large investment in the Canadian oil sands shortly before oil prices hit the skids in mid-2014. What looked like a good diversification effort with oil at $100 a barrel quickly turned into a cash-draining investment that some industry watchers feared would push Teck to the financial edge.

Teck has made impressive strides on the balance sheet. Image source: Teck Resources Ltd.

Although the broad commodity recovery in 2016 helped prove that view wrong, the company's debt-reduction efforts were even more telling. Teck, it turns out, could not only fund its Fort Hills oil sands commitments, but it could reduce debt at the same time. And now that commodity markets are on the mend, Teck looks like it will exit the downturn in much-stronger financial shape.

Continue Reading Below

2. Maturities extension

Teck also pushed out its due dates. Image source: Teck Resources Ltd.

Debt reduction, however, is only one piece of the leverage puzzle. The other big concern was the timing of Teck's debt coming due. At one point it was scheduled to happen in the next couple of years. The company, though, managed to push its maturities further out, and today its first material debt maturity isn't until 2019, when the Fort Hills oil sands mine should be operational.

The company's next big debt bill after 2019 won't hit until 2021. So Teck has not only reduced its debt level materially, but it's also given itself more time to pay. This is a nuance that investors often overlook by focusing on the absolute level of debt.

3. Lower costs

Like other miners, Teck has been cutting costs. Image source: Teck Resources Ltd.

While examining how the company has improved its balance sheet in recent years, let's take a moment to visit costs. Every miner has been working hard to lower costs, and Teck is no different. However, it's still worth highlighting the progress, because this is another way in which Teck has become a better company during a difficult market environment. And, with lower costs, it's exiting the commodity downturn operationally stronger, as well as financially stronger.

4. Long-lived assets

So Teck looks like it has become a better company financially and operationally. But what about the assets it owns? Today Teck mines for steelmaking coal, copper, and zinc. As soon as Fort Hills starts producing, that list will include oil. This diversified combination isn't entirely unique -- mining giants like BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE: BHP) have diversified portfolios, too.

Teck has plenty of digging left to do. Image source: Teck Resources Ltd.

But one interesting statistic is how much of each commodity the company has left to dig out of the ground. Zinc is at the short end of the spectrum for Teck, with just a decade and a half of material left. But the life of assets starts to get notably longer after that, as the chart shows. Even in the unlikely event that the zinc business were to go away in 15 years, Teck would still have an impressive collection of long-lived reserves to support its business.

But shift back to BHP Billiton for a second. This giant miner has one metallurgical-coal mine with a reserve life of 66 years. The rest are all under 50 years. And while it has two copper mines with 50-plus-year reserve lives, the other three mines it runs have reserve lives of 10 years or less. Each company's reserve profile is clearly different, but the point here is that Teck stacks up pretty well even against some of the industry's largest players.

5. Global customer base

And while looking at the business, you'll want to get a handle on where Teck peddles its wares. The answer is, around the world. That's good news, since the company's home market, North America, is a largely mature region.

Teck sells the world over -- and it isn't overly reliant on China. Image source: Teck Resources Ltd.

Note that Asia makes up nearly two-thirds of the company's business. That region is growing quickly and is expected to be a key growth engine in the years ahead. And lest you be concerned about an over reliance on China, where growth is decelerating, that country makes up just 20% or so of Teck's business. For reference, China accounted for roughly 40% of BHP Billiton's revenue in fiscal 2016. Teck's diversification looks pretty good by comparison.

Exiting on a strong note

With the commodity downturn apparently over, Teck Resources has proven it has staying power. Better yet, it's exiting this tough stretch in a better position than it entered it financially and operationally. With assets that will produce for decades into the future and a global reach, Teck is a solid option for investors looking for a mining company.

10 stocks we like better than Teck Resources
When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Teck Resources wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

Click here to learn about these picks!

*Stock Advisor returns as of January 4, 2017

Reuben Brewer has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.