Four reasons to be bullish on silver in 2013

Global Resource Specialist Peter Krauth of Money Morning believes silver prices could hit $54 an ounce in 2013. Here’s why.

Global Resource Specialist Peter Krauth of Money Morning believes silver prices could hit $54 an ounce in 2013. Here are four reasons why he’s so bullish on the metal:

  1. An expected normalization in the gold-silver ratio
  2. President Obama’s prediliction for money-printing
  3. Hard asset investor demand as paper currencies continue to slide
  4. Growing industrial demand

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Agnico-Eagle Mines stock forecast (NYSE:AEM)

A year ago, Agnico shares were north of $70. Prices crumpled to as low as $33, though, on news that the company was forced to close its Goldex mine in Quebec due to safety concerns. It looks like a recovery is well underway.

This post is part of series where we’re checking in on the Top 500 gold and silver mining stocks profiled in our book Top 500 Gold and Silver Mining Stocks: Metalproofing Your Portfolio from the Coming Inflation Shock.

Performance: First, let’s compare Agnico-Eagle’s performance against the AMEX Gold Bugs Index (HUI) – a basket of industry-leading gold stocks.

Time Span AGONF Performance HUI Performance
1 Month +9.5% +13%
3 Month +18.8% +3%
YTD +33% -12%

Agnico-Eagle Mines is one of the top-performing stocks in the HUI this year. The stock also happens to be the smallest component of the HUI with a 3.11 percent weighting. As the smallest component of the HUI, Agnico’s market cap still stands at a massive $8.28 billion. Since it’s smaller than some of its peers, though, share prices could be a bit more volatile.

Why we like Agnico: 1.66% dividend; More than 21 million ounces of gold reserves. By market cap, Agnico is Canada’s fifth-largest gold producer. In Q3 2011 alone, the company increased its production by 11 percent to 265,978 ounces of gold. According to their most recent numbers, they’ve got total proven and probable gold reserves nearing 21.3 million ounces. http://www.agnico-eagle.com/

Recent News: RBC Dominion Securities raised their price target on Agnico-Eagle to $53 a share last week. A year ago, shares were north of $70. Prices crumpled to as low as $33, though, on news that the company was forced to close its Goldex mine in Quebec due to safety concerns. On top of that, Agnico wrote off part of its investment in its Meadowbank mine in Nunavut.

RBC analyst Stephen Walker says things are finally looking up. “The company has shown its ability to ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ on its operating results and drive strong performance at its five operating mines,” he wrote in a note (per the Financial Post). “However, we believe investors expect to see the company deliver results that are sustainable and demonstrate future growth over the next 2-3 years.”

Agnico’s looking to the future with new exploration partnerships in Colombia and Alaska (with Miranda Gold) among other places.

Agnico paid out a dividend of $0.20 cents on Aug. 30. That’s up 25 percent over the company’s $0.16 dividend a year ago. Thanks to growing enthusiasm for gold and silver mining shares, I think RBC’s price target is low, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see shares north of $60 a year from now.

Check out our book Top 500 Gold and Silver Mining Stocks: Metalproofing Your Portfolio from the Coming Inflation Shock (pictured above) to uncover more undiscovered gold and silver mining stocks.

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Gold and silver bubble will ‘dwarf’ the Internet bubble

It’s probably the best risk-reward situation right now as the gold and silver markets have ever seen in terms of the equities.

One of my favorite quotes in recent news came from Bill Murphy founder and chairman of the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA). In an interview (that I highly recommend) with Jim Puplava of the Financial Sense Newshour, Murphy argued that the price of gold and silver have been successfully manipulated for decades.

The debt crisis that’s plaguing the U.S., Europe, Japan and other countries will eventually lead to so much money-printing, though, that continuing to suppress the price of precious metals just won’t be possible. That’s when we’ll truly see a tremendous climb in prices.

“When the public comes in here in our tiny gold and silver markets, it will be a bubble, and it will dwarf what the Internet did except it will be real for a long period of time,” Murphy said. “And that’s coming.”

That’s good news for gold and silver stock holders, but it will likely be bad for everyone on the outside looking in. Since Murphy’s certain we’re nearing the tipping point for inflation (especially after the Fed signaled that QEIII is coming on Friday), he looks at buying mining shares as a no-brainer.

“It’s probably the best risk-reward situation right now as the gold and silver markets have ever seen in terms of the equities,” he says.

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Silver outperforms all other precious metals in August; Where do metals prices go now?

Silver rallied more than 4.5 percent to give it as a solid lead as the top-performing metal in August. It could be a leading indicator that now’s the time to move into gold and silver mining stocks.

When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed “will provide additional policy accommodation” to bolster the US economy on Friday, metals prices sprinted higher in an end-of-the-month surge. Silver rallied more than 4.5 percent to give it as a solid lead as the top-performing metal in August.

Precious Metals Gains, August 2012

Metal Monthly Gain
Gold +4.5%
Silver +12.6%
Platinum +8.5%
Palladium +6.6%

The moves propelled gold to a five-month high while silver’s sitting at a four-month high. Still, leading analysts seem to think the best is yet to come for metals as quantitative easing looks to be more imperative.

“We took the amount of debt owned by major countries that is going to have to roll over in the next three years,” Jim Puplava of the Financial Sense Newshour said recently. “Over 50 percent of US debt is rolling over, 50 percent of Japanese debt, German debt, (etc.), and none of these countries – whether it’s the United States or Europe or Japan – can afford a spike in interest rates. So you know sooner later we’re going to get multiple forms of quantitative easing.”

More quantitative easing means higher inflation and higher precious metals prices as the value of global currencies retreat. That really has me taking a closer look at gold and silver stocks. Many of them have been trending up over the past three months, but they’re still trading below where they were a year ago.

Let’s take a look at a small-cap silver mining stock like Great Panther Silver Ltd. (AMEX:GPL). One year ago, shares stood at $3.19. As of Friday’s close, they were trading at $1.97. If prices return to last year’s levels, that would be a gain of nearly 62 percent.

“When the public comes in here in our tiny gold and silver markets, it will be a bubble, and it will dwarf what the Internet did except it will be real for a long period of time,” Bill Murphy founder and chairman of the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA) Jim Puplava in that same interview. “And that’s coming. … It’s probably the best risk-reward situation right now as the gold and silver markets have ever seen in terms of the equities.”

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African Gold Group stock forecast (PINK:AGGFF, CVE:AGG)

The biggest news out of African Gold is the company’s upcoming resource estimate at its Kobada project. Those numbers are expected sometime this month.

This post is part of series where we’re checking in on the Top 500 junior gold and silver mining stocks profiled in our book Top 500 Gold and Silver Mining Stocks: Metalproofing Your Portfolio from the Coming Inflation Shock.

Performance: First, let’s compare African Gold Group’s performance against the AMEX Gold Bugs Index (HUI) – a basket of industry-leading gold stocks.

Time Span AGONF Performance HUI Performance
1 Month +48% +13%
3 Month +6% +3%
YTD -41% -12%

African Gold Group’s following the usual trend: as a junior gold mining stock, it’s more volatile than shares in larger mining companies. When times are good, they’re really good for small cap miners. When times are bad, the declines are steeper.

Profile: African Gold Group, Inc., holds rights to five projects: three in Ghana and two in Mali. The Company’s most advanced asset is its Kobada gold project in Mali. The Kobada Trend contains an inferred mineral resource of 740,000 ounces of gold at a 0.3 g/t gold cutoff (recently upgraded to 1.1 million ounces), and the company believes that Kobada could be a multi-million ounce deposit. African Gold’s Ghana property also includes land abutting Keegan Resources’ holdings. http://www.africangoldgroup.ca/

Risks: With an average trading volume of 20,500 shares per day, volume on AGONF is low, but not too low. Just keep in mind that taking a large position in a small-cap stock means you may have to wait a long time to find buyers for all your shares. Volume is slightly higher on the CVE, where an average of 44K shares trade hands daily.

Recent News: The biggest news out of African Gold is the company’s upcoming resource estimate at its Kobada project. Those numbers are expected sometime this month.

“(Our resource estimate) will be upgraded to indicated from inferred and a percentage of that will go into measured,” company founder Nikiforuk told the Northern Miner in April. “We also anticipate a meaningful increase in grade.”

Step-out holes drilled at the site this spring included highlights of 70 metres of 1.83 g/t gold and 84 metres of 1.26 grams gold. If the company’s resource estimate is significantly higher, expect a boost in share price.

Last year’s preliminary economic assessment indicated that “the project could produce gold at US$470.90 per oz. processing 20,000 tonnes per day, for a total of 7 million tonnes a year” (per Northern Miner). The project currently boasts an inferred resource of 1.1 million ounces of gold.

Check out our book Top 500 Gold and Silver Mining Stocks: Metalproofing Your Portfolio from the Coming Inflation Shock (pictured above) to uncover more undiscovered gold and silver mining stocks.

Silver prices set to surge higher

Bernanke didn’t say the Fed “may” stimulate, he said the Fed “will” stimulate. That was all it took. Gold and silver prices were off to the races.

Silver prices rocketed higher on Friday thanks to hints from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that QE3 could be around the corner. Prices for the white metal traded in a narrow range around $30.70 an ounce Wednesday and Thursday in the run-up to Bernanke’s speech.

Early Friday, prices started climbing and they didn’t stop until the markets closed. By the end of the day, silver was up to $31.74 an ounce – a gain of 4.58% in a single day of trading. The actual quote that had traders salivating is (in typical Bernanke fashion) vague:

“Taking due account of the uncertainties and limits of its policy tools, the Federal Reserve will provide additional policy accommodation as needed to promote a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labor market conditions in a context of price stability,” he said (per IBD).

Bernanke didn’t say the Fed “may” stimulate, he said the Fed “will” stimulate. That was all it took. Shares in gold and silver mining stocks were off to the races. Majors like Silver Wheaton (NYSE:SLW) rose 5.2 percent and Silver Standard (NASDAQ:SSRI) climbed 7.9 percent. Some small-cap miners did even better with Great Panther Silver (NYSEAMEX:GPL) rocketing up more than 11 percent.

“My friend Eric Sprott of Sprott Asset Management is one of the smartest men I’ve ever met in my life and a real detail guy – and he thinks silver is going to go well above $100, and you might even be able to pick a number for silver,” Bill Murphy founder and chairman of the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA) said in a recent interview with Financial Sense. “I think … people that are willing to do their homework and be patient and accumulate these cheap gold and silver shares will make fortunes in the years ahead.”

Of course, anytime there’s a run-up in gold and silver prices, it doesn’t happen smoothly. Since precious metals act as a barometer of the wider economy, political changes and economic numbers can cause large price swings. When prices are on the rise, though, it can happen violently. And it looks like we could be in the midst of another big upswing.

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Adventure Gold Inc. (PINK:AGONF, CVE:AGE) stock forecast

Adventure Gold Inc. holds rights to more than two dozen potential gold properties in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt located in north-western Quebec and north-eastern Ontario.

This post is part of series where we’re checking in on the Top 500 junior gold and silver mining stocks profiled in our book Top 500 Gold and Silver Mining Stocks: Metalproofing Your Portfolio from the Coming Inflation Shock.

Performance: First, let’s compare Adventure Gold’s performance against the AMEX Gold Bugs Index (HUI) – a basket of industry-leading gold stocks.

Time Span AGONF Performance HUI Performance
1 Month +61% +13%
3 Month +44% +3%
YTD -15% -12%

Adventure Gold’s following the usual trend: it’s more volatile than larger equities. When times are good, they’re really good for small cap miners. When times are bad, the declines are steeper. Still, AGONF’s performance over the past three months has been particularly impressive.

Profile: Adventure Gold Inc. holds rights to more than two dozen potential gold properties in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt located in north-western Quebec and north-eastern Ontario. The company plans to spend $14 million on exploration over the next five years. Most recently, Phase 2 drilling has begun on the Lapaska Property in Quebec. Highlights from previous drilling there showed 1.0 g/t gold over 103.4m including 10.3 g/t gold over 3.8m. http://www.adventure-gold.com/

Risks: Volume on AGONF is extremely low. Some days no shares trade hands. That means that even if you want to sell your shares, there might not be a buyer out there. If there is a buyer, they probably want a discount to the current quote. Volume currently averages 2,500 shares per day.

Recent News: Phase III drilling has kicked off on the company’s 100%-owned Pascalis-Colombiere gold property in the Val-d’Or mining camp in Quebec. The most promising hole showed 3.1 g/t Au over 27.0 metres. Click for more drilling results. Pascalis-Colombiere is a proven property. It yielded just over 200,000 ounces of gold for Cambior Inc. (now IAMGOLD) between 1989 and 1993. That’s a plus over more speculative explorers with unproven plots of land.

Adventure Gold had $5 million on hand as of April, and they have partnerships with two major mining companies in Agnico Eagle (Dubuisson in Val d’Or) and Lake Shore Gold and RT Minerals (Meunier-144 in Timmins West). They’re planning $2 million in drilling through next April with additional work commitments of $10 million over the next 5 years. Promising results would be a boon to the company’s shares.

Check out our book Top 500 Gold and Silver Mining Stocks: Metalproofing Your Portfolio from the Coming Inflation Shock (pictured above) to uncover more undiscovered gold and silver mining stocks.

How to pick gold stock takeover targets in 2012

With gold mining stocks hovering near two-years low, the mining sector is looking ripe for consolidation. Here are three tips for identifying potential gold mining takeover targets.

“The gold miners are cheaper today versus the price of gold than at any time in this 12-year bull market,” Fred Hickey of the Barron’s Roundtable said recently (per IBT). Indeed, gold stocks are hovering near two-years low, and the mining sector is looking ripe for consolidation. Here are three tips for identifying potential gold mining takeover targets:

1) Follow the pros. One of my favorite tactics for identifying strong junior mining companies is by looking at the companies professionals are investing in. A great starting place is the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSE:GDXJ). This ETF invests in a basket of junior gold mining stocks, and the fund regularly updates its holdings. As of right now, GDXJ holds shares in 82 companies (download the excel file here), and it reads like a who’s who in the industry – particularly when you’re looking at the miners towards the top of the list.

Right now, GDXJ likes Perseus Mining (TSE:PRU), Silvercorp Metal (NYSE:SVM), Medusa Mining (ASX:MML), Rubicon Minerals (AMEX:RBY), Endeavour Silver (NYSE:EXK), Evolution Mining (ASX:CAH) and Aurizon Mines (AMEX:AZK) among others.

2) Look at past acquisitions. Perhaps the best way to see which gold mining stocks are worthy of acquiring is by looking at past acquisitions for clues. In March, for example, Pan American Silver Corp. (NASDAQ:PAAS) completed its acquisition of gold and silver mining company Minefinders Corp. Ltd. Let’s take a look at what made Minefinders a tantalizing takeover target:

  • A producing gold and silver mine at the multi-million ounce Dolores project in Northern Mexico.
  • 2.34 million ounces of proven and probable gold (as of 2010) as well as 119 million ounces of proven and probable silver.
  • Low cash costs of $450-$500 per gold ounce equivalent.
  • A small debt load and more than $200 million in cash before the acquisition

Find a company with similar prospects and you’ve probably identified a takeover target.

3) Positive cashflow. It seems obvious, but a lot of beginning gold and silver investors like the idea of getting in on a junior mining stock before they hit the mother lode during exploratory drilling. In my mind, that’s a lot like gambling, and I encourage investors to look instead at junior gold miners that are already pulling ore out of the ground.

The majors want to acquire companies that have made it through the often arduous permitting process, have proven reserves and are already generating cashflow. At that point, the major just needs to bring in its deep pockets and mining expertise to join in the reaping of rewards.

So, while it’s definitely tempting to try to guess which junior mining company is going to uncover the next Brucejack project, you’re a lot safer buying shares in a miner that’s already making money. It’s not as glamorous, but trust me – it’s probably more profitable.

PSLV vs. SLV: Battle of the silver ETFs

Both SLV and PSLV accomplish the same goal: exposure to the spot price of silver without actually buying silver. In the end, then, it comes down to two factors…

While they’re both silver ETFs, the iShares Silver Trust ETF (NYSE:SLV) and the Sprott Physical Silver Trust ETV (NYSE:PSLV) operate very differently. Here’s how they work:

The iShares Silver Trust ETF: The fund buys and sells silver in an attempt to have it’s share price match the value of its bullion holdings. If the value of the fund’s shares rise, iShares buys more silver. In theory, the fund’s market cap should equate to the fund’s silver holdings (less fees and liabilities).

Sprott Physical Silver Trust ETV: The Sprott trust operates much like the iShares ETF with one major exception, shareholders have the ability to exchange their Sprott shares for physical silver bullion on a monthly basis.

Although they operate similarly, the two ETFs have been on divergent paths year-to-date with the PSLV down 10 percent and the SLV up 4.8 percent. During the same time, the price of spot silver is up 2.54 percent on the year. It’s clear then that while the ETFs are designed to track an underlying commodity, they definitely come with margins of error.

And that’s actually making PSLV look quite attractive. In the past, the fund has traded at a premium of up to 35 percent above the price of spot silver (apparently investors like the fact that their holdings could be exchanged for physical silver). Today, PSLV’s trading at a premium of just 4.95 percent to the silver spot price.

There are benefits to both the ETFs approaches, though. First, the arguments for PSLV:

1) Redemption. Obviously, investors can choose to exchange their shares for physical silver – something that could come in handy if we do experience a currency crisis in the West.

2) Tax perks. If you plan to hold your silver ETF shares for more than a year, you can claim any appreciation as a long-term capital gain. That’s good for a 15 percent tax rate. Profits from SLV will set you back 28 percent under the current tax code.

3) Safety. The Royal Canadian Mint stores bullion for the Sprott trust. As Sprott writes on its web site, “The Mint is a Canadian Crown corporation, which acts as an agent of the Canadian Government, and its obligations generally constitute unconditional obligations of the Canadian Government.” SLV’s bullion is stored and managed by a private company (JP Morgan Chase: NYSE:JPM) with no government backing (unless, of course, you count the tacit promise of a bailout when times get tough).

Now the arguments for the SLV:

1) Low or no premiums. Since SLV doesn’t have to manage the costs associated with fulfilling delivery, the fund’s holdings trade at a much smaller premium to the price of silver. That’s important as premiums are subject to the whims of potential investors. As I wrote above, PSLV has traded with a premium as high as 35 percent above the price of silver in the past. You may as well go buy and store your own bullion at those prices.

2) Higher volume. A lot of silver ETF investors have no intention (or at least they don’t foresee the desire) to redeem their stock holdings for physical silver. For them, buying and selling shares is simply a vehicle to make money. SLV wins out if that’s your goal as the fund is much more liquid than PSLV. On an average day, more than 1.7 million shares of SLV trade hands compared with less than 100,000 shares of PSLV. This makes going both long or short the SLV much easier.

SLV Vs. PSLV: Which one’s better?

Both funds accomplish the same goal: exposure to the spot price of silver without actually buying silver. In the end, then, it comes down to two factors: security and taxes. If you know you’re going to hold your shares for more than a year (which entitles you to tax benefits) and you value the security of knowing your ETF shares can be redeemed for actual silver, buy PSLV. For all other traders, the SLV is perfect.

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Three reasons $6,000 gold makes sense

If we look at gold from the perspective of an offensive buyer, their predictions of $6,000 gold start to make some sense. Here are three reasons why $6,000 gold just might come about.

Despite accusations that it’s a worthless chunk of metal, gold prices have risen for the past 12 years. That’s more than a decade of net buying, and those buyers must have a good reason to keep pushing up gold’s price.

In general, I break gold buyers into two camps: defensive buyers and offensive buyers. Defensive buyers are temporarily trying to protect their wealth from effects of inflation. Offensive buyers are the so-called “gold bugs” – the investors who believe that we’re in the midst of a financial crisis that can only be resolved in one way: a string of sovereign defaults. Those offensive buyers don’t plan on selling until we have some new, multi-national gold-backed monetary system.

If we look at gold from the perspective of an offensive buyer, their predictions of $6,000 gold start to make some sense. Here are three reasons why $6,000 gold just might come about:

1) A solid track record. $6,000 sounds like an awful lot of money, but that’s actually just 4 times higher than gold’s current price around $1,590 an ounce. During the 1970s, gold went up 24 times. If we look at gold’s starting point 12 years ago around $250 an ounce and multiply that by 24, we end up at $6,000 an ounce. Gold went up that radically in the past, so it can surely happen in the future.

2) The Dow/gold ratio. Historically, the Dow/gold ratio tends to revert to 2:1. At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stands at 12,835 and gold’s selling for $1,591. That’s a Dow/gold ratio north of 8. If the Dow were to stay at its current levels (floundering sideways in the years to come), and the Dow/gold ratio were to return to historical means, we’d be looking at gold at $6,000 an ounce.

3) Sovereign defaults seem imminent. It’s hard to believe there are countries with debt that rivals our own, but Greece is under the magnifying glass. The Eurozone “is on a path that leads to eventual dismantling,” Peter Tchir of TF Market Advisors wrote in a note to clients on Monday (per IB Times), and Greece looks like it’s poised to be the first domino that falls. Sunday’s election in the country is still yet to yield a coalition government. That’s prompted warnings from the EU “that Greece would get no more payments from the $170 billion deal approved in March if it did not enact roughly $15 billion in cuts by June” (per USAToday).

If Greece stops getting bailout cash, the country would slide into default within weeks. That might not happen in June, but it seems imminent, and it would certainly raise doubts about the future of the Euro.

If people start doubting the future of a currency, gold will get a shot of adrenaline that’ll push it up rapidly. Throw a few currency defaults into the mix and there are few places besides gold to stash your cash. Viewed in that light, $6,000 gold seems more and more likely.

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