First Quantum Rises as Copper Expansion Planned

First Quantum Minerals Ltd., a copper and nickel producer, gained the most in more than seven months after Jefferies Group Inc. analysts named it a “top pick” and said expansion plans may make it a takeover target.

First Quantum rose 10 percent to C$18.27 in Toronto, the biggest gain since Nov. 30. The Vancouver-based company is raising capacity at its Kansanshi copper mine in Zambia. It also plans to develop the Sentinel mine in Zambia and build a copper smelter at Kansanshi.

“The company has a significant, low-cost organic growth pipeline, a strong balance sheet, high quality management and is a potential acquisition target in the longer-term,” Jefferies analysts Christopher LaFemina and Seth Rosenfeld said in a note yesterday. They have a buy rating on First Quantum and said it’s their top pick among copper producers trading in the U.K.

First Quantum “is at the beginning of a major growth phase and could triple its copper production capacity over the next 5-6 years,” David Charles, an analyst at Dundee Securities Corp. in Toronto, said in a note today. Charles initiated coverage of the company with a buy recommendation and a price target of C$26.50.

Outside of Africa, First Quantum restarted the Ravensthorpe nickel mine in Western Australia in October, almost two years after agreeing to buy the asset from BHP Billiton Ltd. It’s building a nickel and copper mine in Finland and is studying a copper project in Peru.

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