The highs in the market have led many investors to believe that the majority of stocks are overvalued and expensive, but some stocks still have room for growth.
Barrick Gold (ABX) reported its earnings on February 15 and demonstrated the Canadian company is still paying down its debt. Paying down the company's debt level has remained a priority, and the miner has whittled down its $13 billion of debt at the end of 2014 to $8 billion at the end of 2016. The amount of debt is predicted to continue to shrink to $5 billion by the end of 2018.
"Chopping $8 billion over the span of four years is a tremendous achievement and illustrates the underlying strength of the company's assets," said Ron McCoy a portfolio manager with Covestor, the online investing company, and founder of Freedom Capital Advisors in Winter Garden, Fla.
The company reported an operating cash flow of $2.64 billion and free cash flow of $1.51 billion for 2016, which was a record for ABX. Free cash flow is important, because it enables the company to either pay down existing debt, increase dividends or invest in future growth opportunities. The miner also said it plans to decrease total debt by $2.9 billion to $5 billion by the end of 2018.
"In fact to illustrate just how significant Barrick's turnaround has been, we only need to look at their outstanding debt over the past two years and for the projected next two years," he said.
A buy-write on ABX is an attractive way to play the miner's stock, McCoy said. A buy-write involves buying the stock and selling a call option against the position simultaneously.
"By doing it as a buy-write, you allow yourself a little cushion in case the stock pulls back" he said.
McCoy bought the stock and sold the January 2018 $20 calls against the position, which nets him under $17 on the net buy price. If the stock closes above $20 at expiration in January, the trade would return over 17%, he said.
"Sometimes markets get to the point where everything begins to look expensive," McCoy said. "Since November, the markets have pretty much moved straight up with very few if any pauses along the way. A correction will be coming, but when and how deep is anyone's guess. When in doubt, hedge your bet with options."
Since Barrick has been selling off assets to reduce its debt over the last few years, the stock is currently near the bottom of a multi-year range. Since it appears the Fed Reserve's sentiment in 2017 is favoring accelerating interest rates, a buy-write "makes sense as a protective bullish play, especially given the recent gains since November," said Rick Moy, a San Diego-based futures and options trader.
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