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Silver Sector Offering Great Value


If the price of the metal can clear and hold above $20 per ounce, most silver stocks can rise handsomely. The transition from a deflationary to inflationary environment should also help.

Editor's Note: Jordan Roy-Byrne, CMT (aka "Trendsman") is the proprietor of Trendsman Research, which provides investment research to private clients and the general public. Trendsman Research authors several newsletters covering trends in stock markets, bonds, commodities, gold, and silver. See more of his content at The Daily Gold.

In my last editorial I showed a few charts of junior gold and junior silver indices. See Update on Junior Indices in Gold and Silver.

Gold has moved well past its 2008 high and the same has happened with the junior gold index. Silver, at its recovery peak, was within 7% off its 2008 high while the junior silver index was 25% off its 2008 high. While the junior silvers have recovered, they've lagged both the junior golds and silver.

This chart shows our junior silver index (black) and our index versus silver (blue).

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The ratio fell from about 13.5 to 3.0 and now sits below 6.0. Much of the recovery in the junior silver stocks has come from the huge recovery in silver rather than from a leveraged move in the shares. Is the market right about this? Are the silver stocks fairly valued here? Let's take a look at some ratios, which can help explain the profitability of the silver stocks and answer those questions.

The following chart shows three things: silver in Canadian dollars, base metals prices, and silver versus oil. The vast majority of silver stocks are Canadian companies so the Canadian price of silver is more important to them. We know that oil comprises a large cost of mining and that many silver companies produce base metals in addition to silver.

Click to enlarge

Since the peak in silver stocks, silver in Canadian dollars is almost 20% higher, silver versus oil is marginally higher, and base metals prices are a good 20% off their highs. This quick analysis indicates that silver producers, as a group, should have near-record profits and perhaps even better profits than in 2007. This is the case as a handful of silver companies have recently reported excellent profits.

So why haven't silver stocks gained more? First, the credit crunch and deflationary environment is initially bullish for the gold sector. As we know, gold always leads silver. Second, the financial crisis has led to more risk aversion. In such an environment silver has difficulty escaping its partial status as an industrial metal.

Going forward, traders and investors should keep their eyes on the silver sector. If the price of silver can clear and hold above $20/oz, then most of the silver stocks can rise handsomely. Furthermore, the transition from a deflationary to inflationary environment should benefit the silver sector first and foremost.

(iShares Silver Trust (SLV) last traded at 17.97.)

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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