Listing the top 8 highest-rated silver stocks

If you’re ready to wade into the silver markets, start with the market leaders. Here are the Top 8 silver mining stocks with the highest analyst ratings. A rating of 1 is a “strong buy.” A rating of 5 is a “sell.”

Company Ticker Analyst rating YTD return
Silver Wheaton Corp. SLW 1.9 -28.8%
Mines Management, Inc. MGN 2 -40.4%
Coeur Mining Inc. CDE 2.6 -37%
Silver Standard Resources Inc. SSRI 2.6 48.6%
Endeavour Silver Corp. EXK 2.7 -18%
Fortuna Silver Mines Inc. FSM 2.7 -45.7%
First Majestic Silver Corp. AG 2.8 -23.3%
Hecla Mining Company HL 3 -17.5%

Just one of the stocks above is in positive territory for the year: Silver Standard Resources. And what a year its had leaping up by nearly 50 percent in value.

Here’s the same group of stocks listed by market cap:

Company Ticker Market Cap
Silver Wheaton Corp. SLW $5.5 billion
Hecla Mining Company HL $834 million
Silver Standard Resources Inc. SSRI $582 million
First Majestic Silver Corp. AG $439 million
Coeur Mining Inc. CDE $438 million
Fortuna Silver Mines Inc. FSM $305 million
Endeavour Silver Corp. EXK $173 million
Mines Management, Inc. MGN $8 million

What do analysts like about the top 3 stocks on the list?

1) Silver Wheaton Corp. 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) Mines Management, Inc. This one makes me nervous. Mines Management has been in danger of getting de-listed by the NYSE after its share price faltered. Additionally, the company has posted losses over the past five fiscal years. Mines Management did submit a compliance plan to the NYSE, which was accepted. The company has until the end of 2016 to get compliant. It’ll likely need an infusion of cash to do so. The company’s primary asset – the Montanore silver-copper project located in northwestern Montana – holds 166 million ounces of silver per a Canadian National Instrument (NI) 43-101 that was completed in 2011.

3) Coeur Mining Inc. Analysts currently have an average price target of $6.46 on Coeur Mining. That’s 100 percent more than the stock’s current price of $3.22. Coeur did surprise analysts with a smaller-than-expected loss last quarter. The company lost $0.11 per share vs. the consensus estimate of -$0.22. Revenue hit $166.3 million vs. an estimate of $165. “On average, equities research analysts anticipate that Coeur Mining will post ($0.76) EPS for the current fiscal year” (source).

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

Photo credit: JM Griffin and Michael LaTerz.

Gold price flirts with all-time record highs

With the dollar tumbling to a 15-month low, gold spot prices have risen more than $30 over the past five trading days. That’s pushed the yellow metal less than $10 shy of its all-time record high of $1,444.40 an ounce.

With the dollar tumbling to a 15-month low, gold spot prices have risen more than $30 over the past five trading days. That’s pushed the yellow metal toward its all-time record high of $1,444.40 an ounce – a record that was set on March 7.

Investors have shown a preference for precious metals as a safe haven in the face of turmoil in the MENA region and the devastation in Japan. Traditionally, the dollar has served as a refuge of last resort, but analysts argue that the Fed’s quantitative easing program has encouraged investors to look elsewhere.

“The dollar is not currently a safe haven in times of macroeconomic uncertainty because any downward revision in global and U.S. growth automatically means a higher risk of QE3,” Beat Siegenthaler, senior currency strategist at UBS, wrote in a note to clients (per MarketWatch).

The Fed’s policies are making it more difficult to maintain investor confidence in the dollar, but an unexpected rise in interest rates or a premature halt to QE2 would likely spook the markets as the U.S. recovery looks promising but is far from a sure bet. The end result is a move into gold, silver and other precious metals as investors look for ways to protect their assets.

Gold spot prices spiked as high as $1,435 an ounce in early trading yesterday; less $10 shy of all-time record high prices. It’s a trend that will likely continue so long as the threat of QE3 hovers over currency markets.

Yesterday’s top-performing gold mining stocks (mostly microcaps) all rose more than 10 percent with Vista Gold Corp. (AMEX:VGZ) sprinting up 19.1 percent. Here’s a look yesterday’s other winning precious metals stocks:

  •  Mines Management, Inc. (AMEX:MGN) +18.2%

  •  Alexco Resource Corp. (AMEX:AXU) +12.3%

  •  Kobex Minerals Inc. (AMEX:KXM) +11.3%

  •  Kimber Resources, Inc. (AMEX:KBX) +10.3%

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