The TSX-listed company's (EDV) share price was flat Thursday in response to a quarterly and FY19 production report that was generally well received by analysts.
Endeavour's FY19 gold production of 651,000oz (up 6% year-on-year) at AISC of US$813/oz and an average delivered price of $1,367/oz allowed the company to cut net debt by US$77 million in the fourth quarter and about $130 million in the second half of 2019 to $531 million at year-end. It is guiding for FY2020 production of 680,000-740,000Koz at AISC of $845-895/oz.
"We believe the business is well positioned to significantly decrease its net debt in the coming year," CEO Sebastien de Montessus said.
RBC Capital Markets, which has a price target of C$31 on Endeavour versus the current $25.39, said Endeavour's net debt to EBITDA (2019) ratio of 1.32-times was below its year-end target (sub-1.5-times).
"Following Endeavour terminating merger talks with Centamin, we think the market's focus will be back on the balance sheet and ongoing deleveraging," RBC said.
"We expect the deleveraging to continue to accelerate particularly if spot gold prices persist. This is something that will likely drive the near-term share price performance but to us it is reaching a lower gearing - most likely circa-1-times by year-end 2020 - that should form a critical trigger point for refreshing views on capital allocation.
"We see scope for both dividends and potential streamlining of the group's portfolio as being considered.
"On the exploration front, there was no news today but reserve updates for Ity and Hounde as well as exploration and resource updates for the greenfield Fetekro project are all expected to be released within H1 of this year and could be catalysts."
Endeavour committed to a FY2020 exploration spend of US40-45 million.
"Following the successful addition of 2.1Moz of indicated resources in 2019, exploration will continue to be a strong focus in 2020," the company said.
RBC said Endeavour's 2020 capex guidance was below its current forecast, "meaning our free cash flow projections should remain healthy".
"With the successful delivery of start-up at the Ity CIL plant ahead of schedule and below budget Endeavour has continued to build on its strong reputation for project development. Ity should help Endeavour to deliver strong FCF in 2020 to continue deleveraging.
"We see further catalysts near term as the group backfills mine life at both Ity and Hounde through resource conversion and the addition of reserves.
"We think further portfolio refinement in time could improve margins and cost profile. Whilst Burkina has seen a worrying uptake in risk and security incidents in 2019 we believe management has systems in place to manage its exposure."
Endeavour's FY19 financials are due out on March 3.