This stock is up 100% in one year, but may still be cheap

International mining giant Freeport-McMoRan is up 104 percent in the past year, but some analysts say it's still a buy after its substantial run.

The stock sunk more than 5 percent Tuesday following a downgrade from Deutsche Bank citing "increasing uncertainty" surrounding ongoing disruptions at one of the company's major copper mines. But the recent weakness could present a prime buying opportunity, according to Craig Johnson, managing director and technical market strategist at Piper Jaffray.

"I think the world has forgotten that this is a new secular bull market, and cyclical growth stocks are back in. When I look at a chart of Freeport-McMoRan here, what a great bottoming setup here. It's your classic inverted head and shoulders bottom," Johnson said Tuesday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Let us translate: A "head and shoulders" technical pattern typically points to a bullish-to-bearish reversal in a chart, and thus an inverted pattern would suggest Freeport-McMoRan could take a leg higher, on this technical basis.

Examining a two-year chart of the stock, Johnson contended, "All we're doing is pulling back and retesting where we broke out from," adding that he would buy this pullback as it's a "great opportunity."

Johnson also noted that he thinks the basic materials sector will prove to be a market leader throughout 2017.

Freeport-McMoRan, based in Arizona but with international copper, gold and silver mining operations, is up more than 7 percent year to date. The company saw significant upside, along with the price of copper, after the U.S. election in November as investors anticipated an increase in federal infrastructure spending.

Production halted Tuesday at the giant Grasberg mine in Indonesia, where Freeport-McMoRan mines copper, after a failed deal between mine workers and the Indonesian government.

The recent developments at the mine come as no surprise to Chris LaFemina, equity research analyst at Jefferies. But he said he is concerned about the ongoing dispute and expects shares to see volatility due to the recent reports.

"[Grasberg mine] is critically important to Freeport, and a resolution to the ongoing issues is an important component of the Freeport investment case in the near term," LaFemina told CNBC in an email Tuesday.

Looking further out, "assuming there is some resolution (even if as a result of international arbitration), the Freeport investment case is more dependent on the copper price," LaFemina wrote. He is bullish on the price of copper, and therefore holds a positive view on Freeport-McMoRan while acknowledging such volatility.

China is one of the world's largest copper consumers, and its demand for the industrial metal is high. But Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Washington Crossing Advisors, is staying away from Freeport-McMoRan at this juncture as he sees growth in China as ready to "decelerate."

"We think China's going to roll over, hence that's the reason we'd be more cautious," he said Tuesday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

"It's had a huge run in the last 12 months, and that's on the back of copper prices surging over 30 percent year over year," he said Tuesday.

Morganlander also noted that Freeport-McMoRan has about $19 billion in debt, and has a "highly volatile revenue line" with little consistency on its free cash flow side.

Analysts currently give Freeport-McMoRan an average rating of hold, per FactSet data, with a slightly bullish average target price of $14.56.

Freeport shares slipped another 1 percent lower in early Wednesday trading.


Trades to Watch

Trader Bios


Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

Read more