November 24, 2017

The silver miners’ stocks have really languished this year, grinding sideways to lower for months on end. This vexing consolidation has fueled near-universal bearishness, leaving silver stocks deeply out of favor. But once a quarter when earnings season arrives, hard fundamentals pierce the obscuring veil of popular sentiment. The silver miners’ recently-reported Q3’17 results reveal today’s silver prices remain profitable.

Four times a year publicly-traded companies release treasure troves of valuable information in the form of quarterly reports. These are generally due by 45 days after quarter-ends in the US and Canada. They offer true and clear snapshots of what’s really going on operationally, shattering the misconceptions bred by the ever-shifting winds of sentiment. There’s no silver-miner data that is more highly anticipated than quarterlies.

Silver mining is a tough business both geologically and economically. Primary silver deposits, those with enough silver to generate over half their revenues when mined, are quite rare. Most of the world’s silver ore formed alongside base metals or gold, and their value usually well outweighs silver’s. So typically in any given year, less than a third of the global mined silver supply actually comes from primary silver mines!

The world authority on silver supply-and-demand fundamentals is the Silver Institute. Back in mid-May it released its latest annual World Silver Survey, which covered 2016. Last year only 30% of silver mined came from primary silver mines, a slight increase. The remaining 70% of silver produced was simply a byproduct. 35% of the total mined supply came from lead/zinc mines, 23% from copper, and 12% from gold.

As scarce as silver-heavy deposits supporting primary silver mines are, primary silver miners are even rarer. Since silver is so much less valuable than gold, most silver miners need multiple mines in order to generate sufficient cash flows. These often include non-primary-silver ones, usually gold. More and more traditional elite silver miners are aggressively bolstering their gold production, often at silver’s expense.

So the universe of major silver miners is pretty small, and their purity is shrinking. The definitive list of these companies to analyze comes from the most-popular silver-stock investment vehicle, the SIL Global X Silver Miners ETF. This week its net assets are running 6.6x greater than its next-largest competitor’s, so SIL really dominates this space. With ETF investing now the norm, SIL is a boon for its component miners.


http://silverseek.com/commentary/sil...amentals-16970