World's biggest asset manager accuses gold miners of misleading investors

BlackRock (NYSE:BLK), the world's largest asset manager, has criticized gold producers for misleading shareholders by means of faulty metrics and issued a call for improved benchmarks that more accurately reflect their performance.

The Australian reports that Catherine Raw from BlackRock's World Mining Fund has said that current metrics employed by companies  are "misleading people" and called for improved reporting standards which more accurately assess the cost performance of producers.

"Everyone is rushing to say that cash is below the average, below USD$500/oz, when actually when you take into account…growth capex, it's just not true," said Raw.

Raw says this is an industry-wide problem which not only misleads investors but also incurs higher taxes and royalties from governments due to disingenuous profit reports.

Speaking at the Mines and Money Conference in London Evy Hambro of BlackRock's Natural Resources Equity Team reiterated his colleague's call, saying that gold industry leaders should "come up with an industry standard that allows them to talk to their shareholders on a level playing field so you can see who is doing a good job."

Hambro had a harsh appraisal of the industry's recent performance, saying that gold shares have languished despite surging bullion prices because companies have engaged in profligate share issuance to chase production at lower ore grades.

"If the industry hadn't chased lower grades, would share prices have been higher today than they currently are? Our view is that yes, companies would make far more money."

Hambro also criticized the poor return on investment of gold miners, noting that the sector only pays out 25% of its earnings as compared to 45% in the oil industry, and called for producers to raise their dividends to attract investors instead of pursuing growth for its own sake.