Shares of Eldorado Gold (NYSE: EGO), a leader in gold mining, dropped 19% in February, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. In this case, the stock's precipitous plunge can't be traced to the usual suspects of negative news announcements, analysts' downgrades, or insider selling. Instead, it's simply an extension of the bearish sentiment that has surrounded the stock for some time now; shares plunged nearly 60% in 2017 and, more recently, slipped 9% in January.
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One area of ongoing concern for investors is uncertainty regarding the company's assets. Currently, Eldorado is in the middle of arbitration proceedings with the Greek government to resolve differences regarding the Skouries project, a high-grade gold-copper porphyry deposit, located in northern Greece. Unable to advance the project through the permitting phase, Eldorado anticipates Skouries will account for $20 million in capital expenditures in 2018 as the company transitions the project to care and maintenance. And management estimates annual ongoing care and maintenance costs between $3 million and $5 million once Skouries is fully ramped down.
Investors' frustration with the company's inability to bring Skouries to fruition is understandable, considering Eldorado estimated the project would have a 25 year mine life and generate about $1.8 billion in net after-tax cash flow.
In addition to Greece, Eldorado faces challenges in Turkey with the Kisladag mine. In January, investors learned that Kisladag reported gold production of 171,358 ounces in 2017 -- well below the initial gold production guidance of 230,000 ounces to 250,000 ounces. And it's unclear whether 2018 is shaping up to be much better. Exercising caution in providing guidance for the mine, management estimates first-quarter gold production at Kisladag between 40,000 and 50,000 ounces, but it's refraining from providing a gold production forecast for the remainder of the year until the results of a technical study are released at the end of the first quarter.
Since there was little in the way of news in February, it's clear that the stock's downward movement was a reflection of the continued uncertainty regarding Skouries and Kisladag. The next page in the Skouries drama, however, is around the corner; the arbitration period is set to end on April 6. Of course, investors should also be keenly attuned to commentary on Kisladag, since positive results from the technical study would be a green light for the company as it strives to achieve the two goals for 2018 and beyond that it identified in a January press release: to "move Eldorado back into a growth phase and create value for all our stakeholders."
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