Freeport's copper production is estimated to grow to over 5 billion pounds by 2016 from 3.6 billion pounds in 2012 due to production expansions that are under way. Risks to the story include commodity pricing, success rates of exploration activities and geopolitical concerns.
The bottom line is that Freeport has a well-regarded management that will need time to prove its vision. Over that period of time, we believe the company will greatly benefit from the backdrop of an improving global macroeconomic environment -- which is supported by recent data in the U.S., China and now Europe.
At the same time, Freeport can demonstrate why its shares should close the valuation gap it currently possesses relative to other globally diversified exploration plays (approximately 4 times 2013 EBITDA estimates vs. its historical multiple of approximately 5 times and its peers at approximately 6 times ( BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO)). For buy-and-hold investors, this name is one that cannot be ignored.
--Written by Bryan Ashenberg in New York City.