The numbers for silver demand are starting to make some market-watchers nervous. The US Mint sold over 6.4 million silver Eagles in January, more than any other month since the coin’s introduction in 1986. China’s net imports of silver quadrupled in 2010, to 122.6 million ounces, roughly 13.7% of global production. Meanwhile, mine production can’t meet worldwide demand; the only way demand gets fulfilled is from scrap supply.
That is some very hungry demand. Which raises the question, how long can this pace continue?
This question is important for various reasons, starting with how demand contributes to price. If demand falls off, silver investments would obviously suffer.
While I’ve discussed the concern regarding the lack of supply before, which has its own implications for the silver market, let’s focus on investment demand. Frankly, is there room for it to continue to grow? After all, how long can investors continue to set records?
There are a number of ways to measure this – the amount of money available to invest, its percent of total financial assets, its contrast to demand in the last bull market, etc. – but I think the bottom line to answering the question is to compare the biggest silver investments to some popular equities. If they rival that of the stocks we always see on the news and analysts constantly talk about and every fund manager wants to own, then it might be reasonable to assume demand could be nearing its pinnacle.
So how do the world’s largest silver ETF and one of the biggest silver producers compare to the more fashionable equities?
The largest silver ETF, iShares Silver Trust, has net assets of $9.6 billion (as of February 4). This pales in comparison to the more popular stocks trading in the US. In fact, SLV has roughly 3% the market cap of Apple. It would have to grow over 43 times to match Exxon Mobil.
Pan American Silver, the largest pure silver producer trading on a major US exchange, has a market cap of $3.72 billion. This is 4.7% the size of McDonald’s. The market cap would have to increase more than 53 times to match Wal-Mart. It is over 62 times smaller than Microsoft.
This isn’t to suggest SLV and PAAS will match the market cap of these other companies, but clearly the masses are still demanding much more of them than the biggest of silver’s investment vehicles.
So how much more demand can silver handle? As much as it takes to make it the household name I’m convinced it will be before this is all over. When SLV is a favorite of fund managers. When Silver Wheaton is a market darling of the masses. When Pan American is Wall Street’s top pick for the year.
Imagine what those bars on the right will look like when most everyone you know is talking about poor man’s gold. The rise could be breathtaking.
Remember that silver rose over 3,646% from trough to peak in the last precious metals bull market; it’s up about 630% in our current run. A return matching the 1970s advance would push the price to $152. This price level is further supported by the fact that this is about where it would be when inflation-adjusted for its 1980 peak.
When you look at the potential growth in market cap of the world’s biggest silver investments, it becomes easy to view any downdraft in price as nothing but a buying opportunity. I know I do.
Jeff Clarkfor The Daily Reckoning
There’s a lot of rumor, buzz, innuendo, chitchat and scuttlebutt about the precious metals markets these days. Most of the chitchat is about J.P. Morgan and silver. Rumor has it that J.P. Morgan has amassed a whopping short position in silver.The scuttlebutt, according to SFGate.com, is that “J.P. Morgan holds a giant short position in […]
Having worked on his family's gold claims in California and Arizona, as well as a mine in a place to remain nameless, Jeff's research and writing skills are utilized in his role as editor and one of the primary writers of Casey's Gold & Resource Report.
Whether it is researching new companies to recommend, analyzing the big trend in gold, or looking for other safe and profitable ways to capitalize on the bull market, Jeff is devoted to making Casey's Gold & Resource Report the best precious metals newsletter for the prudent investor. He coordinates the efforts among the research and writing team, ensuring that whatever is happening in the gold and silver market doesn't escape coverage.
Oil isn't the only resource to experience "peaks." Due to a major contraction in gold exploration over the past few years, the mining sector is no longer mining gold at its replacement rate. In other words, the amount of gold above ground is running out. And according to Henry Bonner, it will get worse before it gets better...
Too often investments are made in a vacuum. But as Byron King demonstrates, the global economic crash... easy money... and technological advancements are all interdependent. In particular, that connection has changed the investment calculus in the resource market. Read on to learn how...
Back in the 1980s, John Nestor became infamous for single-handedly causing massive traffic jams on the Capital Beltway. But in his professional life, he created a completely different kind of traffic jam... one that may have contributed to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. Juan Enriquez has the full story. Read on...
Too many people think that long-term care planning is just a decision about whether to purchase long-term care insurance. However, long-term care planning is so much more... It is a discussion about how you will fund this expense, where you will receive long-term care, and who will provide the care. Jamie Hopkins explains...
Lately, the market seems to be obsessed with new tech darlings with flashy names and exciting stories. But there are more sinister forces at work... Today Greg Guenthner explains why you should pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, and avoid being tempted by big name tech IPOs. Read on...