2016 silver price predictions: Look for a recovery

Four years ago, analysts everywhere were making predictions about the price of silver. Now, it’s hard to find anyone talking about it. Paul Mladjenovic, author of Precious Metals Investing for Dummies, believes prices for the white metal will bolt higher in 2016, though. Indeed, he believes silver has a “strong chance at hitting” $25 to $29 next year (source).

Adam Koos, president of Libertas Wealth Management Group, agrees without giving a specific price target. He expects silver to start a bull run late in 2016. “Take a little hiatus until 2016 … when the US president will be a huge question mark, US stocks will most likely pick up in volatility and any rate increases will have already been priced into the metals,” he told MarketWatch.com this summer.

Kunal Shah, head of commodities research at Nirmal Bang Commodities, believes silver prices should settle between $16.95 and $17.40 per ounce by the end of 2016. “Industrial demand has remained very strong from electrical, solar and various industries so we recommend that any decline in silver prices now should be used as excellent buying opportunity,” he says (source).

That falls in line with silver price predictions from a Reuters poll over the summer. Polled analysts expect silver prices to recover to $17.21 an ounce in 2016 (source).

RBC analysts expect silver prices to be around $19 an ounce by 2018 (source). That’s roughly 20 percent higher than today’s silver price of $15.50. That’s not exactly a big surge. RBC is, however, bullish on a handful of gold and silver stocks. While silver prices have plummeted, stocks in the sector have gotten hit even harder. They should start recovering rapidly as the price of silver drifts higher.

One of the biggest silver bears I can find is Jing Pan, a research analyst and editor at Lombardi Financial. Pan believes we could see a squeeze next year that might push silver prices up to $31 an ounce (source). He cites decreased mining activity, elevated demand and a skewed gold-silver ratio as the major drivers. Today’s gold-silver ratio hovers around 72:1. If we get to 35:1, we’d be around Pan’s target price, and that’s still far higher than the “natural” gold-silver ratio of 17:1.

Interestingly, 2015 is expected to be the first year in 12 years that silver mining output will actually decline. “We’re just not seeing the investment in new mine capacity that would be needed to sustain continued record peak production,” Andrew Leyland, an analyst with GFMS, told the Wall Street Journal. GFMS forecasts silver prices will average $16.50 an ounce in 2015, and rise to $17.50 an ounce in 2016.

Photo credit: Loopack.

I’m a bull on Silver Wheaton: Here are 3 reasons why

This post is part of our 3-up, 3-down series where we look at three bullish arguments and three bearish arguments for momentum stocks. Look at the facts, and you decide. See more posts on SLW here.

The bullish case for Silver Wheaton

1) Low-risk business model. Hands down, Silver Wheaton has my favorite business model in the precious metals industry. Known as a “silver steaming” company, SLW helps other companies fund the development of future mines in exchange for fixed-cost silver when those mines becomes operational. That’s how SLW currently has fixed costs for silver production of $4.36 per ounce.

2) Record production. Other companies may be shuttering mines, but Silver Wheaton continues to hit all-time record production numbers. In Q2 2015, the company produced 11 million silver equivalent ounces and sold more than 10 million ounces of silver for the first time in the company’s history.

“The record production and sales were driven by strong results from all of our flagship assets the Salobo, San Dimas and Penasquito mines as well as the first substantive production from Constancia, which achieved commercial production earlier this year,” said Randy Smallwood, SLW’s president and CEO, during last quarter’s conference call. Those numbers will continue to grow as we’ll see below.

3) Leveraged growth. Silver Wheaton is growing its silver production at a time when silver prices could start edging up. Any rise in silver prices leverages profits that the company books. For 2015, SLW expects production to grow by 23 percent over the previous year. That would put them at 43.5 million silver equivalent ounces. The company expects that growth to continue steadily through 2019 when they should produce 51 million silver equivalent ounces. The higher the price of silver, the higher the company’s profits. Take a look at the table below to see how much a jump in the price of silver could impact Silver Wheaton’s profits (assuming their costs stay at $4.36 per ounce):

Price of silver SLW profit on 50 million ounces of silver
$15.25 $544,500,000
$20.25 $794,500,000
$30.25 $1,294,500,000

Since Silver Wheaton’s cost basis for its silver will not rise, the company can book virtually any gain in the price of silver as profits.

Check out more coverage on SLW here.

2016 silver price predictions: Are we headed up or down?

Let’s take a look at the latest silver price predictions for 2016 as part of our Three-up and Three-down series. We’ll present three bullish arguments for silver prices and three bearish arguments as well. Then, you decide where you think silver’s headed next year.

The bullish case for silver in 2016

1) Devaluing the yuan. Earlier this year, China abruptly announced it would devalue the yuan by 2 percent against the U.S. dollar. The government wanted to spur economic activity in the People’s Republic. Instead, they spooked currency traders who started selling the yuan. In turn, that forced China to start selling some of its dollar holdings, so the country could buy its own currency. That heavy selling is putting downward pressure on the dollar. Some speculate it could lead to a considerably weaker dollar, which might encourage more investment in hard assets like gold and silver. Gaurav S. Iyer, a research analyst and editor at Lombardi Financial, speculates that the weaker dollar might push silver back toward its 2011 peak around $50 an ounce.

2) Supply strain. Most of the silver that’s mined in the world is a byproduct of mining for other metals (copper, zinc, gold and lead). Since metal prices have fallen across the board, mining companies have drastically cut expenses and lowered their production levels by shuttering some mines. Less gold, copper and zinc means less silver, too. “Take Canada, one of the world’s major silver producers, for example,” writes Michael Lombardi. “Year-to-date, silver mine production in Canada has declined by 20%.” This could lead to a silver supply crunch if the global economy starts picking up steam (as many expect it to do next year). That’s because silver’s used extensively in many high-tech products.

3) A skewed ratio. The silver-gold price ratio is north of 70. Put another way, an ounce of silver costs more than 1/70th the amount of an ounce of gold. “Over the last 40 years, the grey metal averaged a 42.8 conversion rate with gold,” Iyer writes. “History has shown that a rise in silver prices are all but guaranteed when the ratio tops 70. It’s sitting at 75 right now.” According to him, that means we could see silver prices surge 420 percent from where they are today.

The bearish case for silver in 2016

1) A strong dollar. China’s devaluing the yuan. India and the Eurozone are increasing their quantitative easing programs, and the U.S. Federal Reserve is planning to hike interest rates this year or early in 2016. All signs point to a strengthening dollar. And that negates one of the most powerful incentives to invest in silver: using it as a hedge against a dollar collapse.

2) Deflation. What will be the biggest determinant of silver prices in 2016? Whether we see inflation or deflation. Since precious metals have a finite supply, they act as a hedge against inflation (much like real estate and even stocks). When we’re in a low-inflation environment – or worse, a deflationary environment – it just doesn’t make sense to hold a large position in silver. Across the globe, signs are pointing toward deflation. Credit default swaps are rising, currencies in emerging countries are declining (a sign of slowing global growth) and the rising dollar is disproportionately punishing companies outside the U.S. If we tip toward deflation, we’re probably not going to have rising silver prices.

3) The bear market continues. I always follow momentum until that momentum is broken. Silver’s down more than 70 percent from its 2011 peak. The metal is in a bear market, and I’m not ready to call a bottom yet. Neither is JP Morgan.

Here’s their 2016 silver price prediction: “Silver prices will broadly continue their bearish trend for the coming two quarters before finding greater strength in the second half of 2016,” they said early last month. Specifically, JP Morgan is predicting silver prices will average $14.08 in Q1 of 2016 and $14.65 throughout the year.

Where do you think we’ll see silver prices in 2016?

Where will silver prices go in 2015?

Silver price forecasters are all over the map in their predictions for 2015. It’s hard to deny there’s something interesting happening in the silver market, though. After falling 20 percent in 2014, silver prices have surged nearly 10 percent in the first six weeks of 2015 with prices now hovering around $17.25 per ounce.

Continue reading “Where will silver prices go in 2015?”

Silver price forecast: $10 an ounce in 2015?

Silver price forecasts

Despite recent weakness, gold has been one of the best performing commodities this year. Under normal circumstances, silver would be performing even better. Call 2014 an anomaly then.

While gold is up 8 percent for the year, silver has been flat. Half of the white metal’s demand comes from investment vehicles. The other half comes from industrial uses. As the economy improves, that should drive up industrial consumption of silver. At the same time, the Fed’s ongoing quantitative easing programs mean we should continue to see investment demand for silver. Shouldn’t gold and silver prices be headed higher?

Peter Schiff, the president of Euro Pacific Capital, thinks so. He told CNBC that he believes gold could reach $5000 per ounce.

“I’ve been buying gold for over 1213 years. I’ve been recommending it for my clients. Not once have I bought gold because of geopolitical risks. I’ve never even considered that. The people who say that are the people who don’t buy any gold. I’ve been buying gold for the last decade, and it’s because central banks are creating too much money. There’s too much inflation. Interest rates are too low. And so I want to store my purchasing power in something central banks can’t print. I think we’re headed much much higher because they’re not going to stop those presses. I don’t know the time period. They’re just going to trend higher. I’ve said $5000, they’ll go higher than that.”

If that were to happen, the increase in investment demand for silver could drive prices up rapidly. Silver has been showing signs of strength in the stock market, too.

“Silver saw the largest inflows [amongst commodity ETFs] during the quarter,” says the Wall Street Journal (per BullionVault), “as investors looked to the metal as a leveraged play on improved sentiment towards gold.”

Not everyone is bullish on silver, though. Natixis analysts are calling for a base case of silver at $18.60 an ounce this year, and $15 an ounce next year (per Mineweb). They could even see the white metal falling as low as $10 an ounce in 2015.

“At 19,700 tonnes, the amount of silver held in physically-backed ETPs (exchange traded products) is equivalent to almost 80% of 2012’s mined output. If last year’s mass exit from gold ETPs was followed this year by sales from silver ETPs, this could rapidly turn into a substantial new source of supply just as happened with gold last year. Under these scenarios we could see silver prices fall to an average of $15/oz in 2014 and $10/oz in 2015.”

The only solace I get out of such bearishness is it can’t get much worse. The contrarian in me wants to buy more silver when the bears take control.

I don’t think we’re out of the woods for silver prices yet, though, so I’ll bide my time. Inflation will begin to rear it’s ugly head soon. That’s why I’ll start buying more silver. For now, my favorite investment for 2014 remains bitcoin. Check out my bitcoin price prediction page on crypt.la to learn why.

Silver price forecast: Silver should be at $87 an ounce

Any silver price forecast is dependent upon the expected behavior of the U.S. dollar. If you believe that dollar is on the verge of devaluation, you can probably expect silver prices to climb in response. Hubert Moolman’s recent piece “Monetary Collapse and Silver Price Not So Orderly Rise” at The Market Oracle, compares today’s volatile gold and silver market with the equally volatile precious metals surge in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Moolman does that by looking at patterns in the gold-silver ratio (the number of ounces of silver it takes to buy an ounce of gold).

Moolman points out that the gold-silver ratio has been trending down since roughly 1990, and that the pattern indicates we could see a gold-silver ratio around 15 in the months or years to come. Here’s his chart, which shows the gold-silver ratio over time (source):

Silver Price Forecast Chart

If the gold-silver ratio were at 15 today, we’d have silver prices at $87 an ounce. That sounds high, but keep in mind that if silver were to spike rapidly, gold would probably be climbing higher, too. That would compound the price gains for silver if we truly moved to a gold-silver ratio of 15. That would also make Moolman’s silver price forecast even higher.

Moolman’s basic thesis is that we’re on the verge of an all-out monetary collapse.

“The rise of silver and the collapse of the monetary system is inescapably linked,” Moolman writes. “Therefore, if the collapse of the monetary system is not orderly, then the rise of silver’s value will not likely be orderly. Collapse by definition suggests: to break or fall suddenly. This would suggest that when the time comes, silver will explode higher suddenly; for example, it could be possible that it rises $10, $20, $100 a day, until you can suddenly not buy it with fiat money.”

My silver price forecast

If the dollar truly were to collapse, it’s hard to argue with Moolman’s silver price forecast. Investors, consumers, institutions and governments would be clamoring to move their fiat currencies into hard assets like real estate, gold, silver and possibly even bitcoin or stocks (check out my post Bitcoin inflation hedge: The new gold and silver).

I’m not as pessimistic as him in the near-term, though. While I do expect inflation sometime in the not-so-distant future, I don’t see signs that it’s imminent. Prices can’t move higher if people aren’t spending much money (put another way, inflation require consumers to be going on shopping sprees). Economists measure the amount of money moving through the system as money velocity. Right now, money velocity is low (source):

Silver Price Forecast: Money Velocity

Until money velocity picks up, inflation will remain low, and the government’s free to print as much cashola as they want. Eventually, it’ll catch up with them, but I believes the scars from 2008 are too fresh to expect consumers to start overspending any time soon. That gives the Federal Reserve a nice grace period to continue printing money.

So long as we have low inflation, silver prices will remain low. My silver price forecast is $25 an ounce in 2014, though I expect it to go much higher in 2015 and beyond.

3 reasons silver prices could head higher in near-term

It’s the second-worst bear market for silver in history (the first being the bear market from 1980-1982 when the precious metals bubble burst). If you believe we’re in a longer-term uptrend for precious metals, that means we’re likely nearing a bottom in silver prices.

1) Gold-silver divergence. Since the start of the year, the price of gold is up more than 5 percent while the price of silver is off 1 percent. Typically, the white metal outperforms gold during uptrends, and it underperforms gold during downtrends. This year, silver just hasn’t kept pace with gold. In fact, the gold-silver ratio is hovering around 65, a level we haven’t seen since last summer. Admittedly, gold supplies are currently under pressure, but the gold-silver ratio tends to revert to its mean in the low 50s over time. If the gold-silver ratio were at 55 today, we’d be looking at silver prices around $23.50 an ounce.

2) The bear market to beat all bear markets. Jordan Roy-Byrne at SilverSeek points out just how bad silver’s bear market has been since 2011. In fact, it’s the second-worst bear market for silver in history (the first being the bear market from 1980-1982 when the precious metals bubble burst). “Our technical work suggests that we should watch for a final low and end to the bear market in the coming months,” Roy-Byrne writes.

3) Contraianism. If you buy the argument that we’re in a decades-long bull market for precious metals, then you’ve got to look at silver’s current setback as a blip in a longer-term uptrend. In 2011, analysts were bullish on silver. Had you followed their advice and plowed into silver that year, you’d be down more than 50 percent. Contrarians do the opposite of what the broader market does: they buy when everyone else is selling and sell when everyone else is buying. It takes tenacity to stick to your convictions, but if your investing timeline is long, the spring months could be the perfect opportunity to begin re-building a position in silver.

Note: Always remember ‘opportunity costs.’ If you tie your money up in one investment, you’re unable to invest in something else. In my mind, digital currencies present a more appealing investment opportunity than precious metals. Check out my post Bitcoin inflation hedge: The new gold and silver to see why.

Five factors propelling silver prices higher in 2014

Tepid growth, China and base metals mining are just a few of the factors contributing to bullish arguments for silver prices.

I recently presented the bearish case for silver prices. I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a look at the bullish side. Here are five core factors motivating silver investors in 2014:

1) Tepid growth. Q4 economic growth in the U.S. was markedly weaker than analysts expected with the economy growing just 2.6 percent. Slow growth during the busiest shopping months of the year doesn’t bode well – particularly since Q3 was so strong (with 4.1 percent growth). Slow growth means continued easy monetary policies from the Fed.

2) The Fed is posturing. Janet Yellen and co. have hinted that they may hike interest rates sooner than we thought, but no rational investor or market analyst believes that. The economy is simply too fragile to start raising rates in six months. With interest rates near zero, banks continue to slosh cash into the economy.

3) China slowdown. China’s aiming for GDP growth of 7.5 percent in 2014. That’s ambitious after what’s roundly viewed as a very weak Q1 for the Middle Kingdom. If it doesn’t look like they’re going to meet that target, though, expect the Chinese government to step in and aggressively ensure that growth continues. “We have gathered experience from successfully battling the economic downturn last year and we have policies in store to counter economic volatility for this year,” China’s Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech this week (per Reuters). “We will launch relevant and forceful measures.” QE out of China would likely mean higher inflation and higher silver prices.

4) Geopolitics. Russia seems to be speaking out of both sides of its mouth. Leaders there say they just wanted Crimea, but reports of a troop build-up on the country’s border with Ukraine persist. Should Russia invade its neighbor, the effects would destabilize the global economy and likely generate powerful safe-haven buying in the precious metals sector.

5) Base metals price decline. A slowdown in the emerging markets would translate into decreased demand for base metals. As prices fall, many base metal miners are forced to take lower-margin mines offline. What’s that got to do with silver? Two-thirds of all the silver mined around the world comes from base metal mining (per Nasdaq). Less base metal mining disproportionately impacts the world’s silver supply.

All five arguments sound convincing enough, but until we see inflation seriously start ticking up in the U.S., I’m laying my chips elsewhere, particularly on digital currencies. Check out my post Bitcoin inflation hedge: The new gold and silver to learn why.

Look for gold prices to average $1,225 in 2014

Goldman actually says they see gold prices heading lower for the next two years. It’s hard to argue with them when the metal’s hovering near a 6-month low, and 2013 marked the first annual decline for gold in a decade.

British banking giant Standard Chartered just lowered its gold price forecast by 8 percent according to Metal.com. They’re looking for the yellow metal to average $1,225 this year. That’s nearly 5 percent off the current price ($1,278 at the time of this writing).

Gold prices have been volatile this year rising from $1,220 to $1,340 in an almost vertical climb that started with the new year. That was good for a 10 percent gain. Since then, gold’s given half of those gains back. If Standard Chartered is right, the price is going to keep falling.

SC joins a chorus of big banks that are arguing against the yellow metal. Goldman Sachs (GS) recently reiterated its year-end price target for gold of $1,050. That would be a drop of nearly 20 percent from today’s prices.

I don’t think the price decline will be that steep, but I can’t join in with the gold bulls. I find it interesting that silver and gold prices have continued to trend down despite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. If that can’t generate some ongoing safe-haven buying, we’d need an all-out war to drive up gold prices and that’s something no one wants to see.

Goldman actually says they see gold prices heading lower for the next two years. It’s hard to argue with them when the metal’s hovering near a 6-month low, and 2013 marked the first annual decline for gold in a decade.

There are just too many headwinds for metals right now. The economy’s improving, inflation is low and the Fed’s talking about tightening monetary policies. While I do believe the government has flooded the economy with too much cash to avoid an extended period of inflation, that inflation isn’t coming in the near-term. Until it does (or the Fed announces some new form of QE) look for investors to put their cash elsewhere. In the interim, I’m betting on bitcoin. Check out my post Bitcoin inflation hedge: The new gold and silver.

Look for silver prices to average $19.40 in 2014

There are just too many headwinds for metals right now. The economy’s improving, inflation is low and the Fed’s talking about tightening monetary prices. While I do believe the government has flooded the economy with too much cash to avoid an extended period of inflation, that inflation isn’t coming in the near-term.

British banking giant Standard Chartered just lowered its silver price forecast by 5 percent according to Metal.com. They’re looking for the white metal to average $19.40 this year. That’s less than 2 percent below the current price for silver ($19.78 at the time of this writing).

March has been a rough month for silver with prices falling 10 percent from $22 to $19.78. Silver’s now down for the year, and Standard Chartered believes that’s par for the course in 2014. The bank says recent gains in metal prices came on “U.S. growth concerns and safe-haven buying.” Now, they believe those gains went too far, too fast.

I tend to agree. I find it interesting that silver and gold prices have continued to trend down despite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. If that can’t generate some ongoing safe-haven buying, we’d need an all-out war to drive up silver prices and that’s something no one wants to see.

There are just too many headwinds for metals right now. The economy’s improving, inflation is low and the Fed’s talking about tightening monetary policies. While I do believe the government has flooded the economy with too much cash to avoid an extended period of inflation, that inflation isn’t coming in the near-term. Until it does (or the Fed announces some new form of QE) look for investors to put their cash elsewhere. In the interim, I’m betting on bitcoin. Check out my post Bitcoin inflation hedge: The new gold and silver.