Jeff Clark

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?

Silver Stocks vs. Other Major Stocks

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.

Regards,

Jeff Clark
for The Daily Reckoning

You May Also Like:


Buy Silver…Now!

Matt Badiali

Silver is an amazing metal…which is why it’s likely to soar over the coming years…You see, silver has more than 10,000 uses. It’s one of the world’s best conductors of heat and electricity. Inventors filed more patents on silver uses than any other precious metal in the world. And when silver is used for most […]

Jeff Clark

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.

Recent Articles

A Quarter-Century’s Conclusion on Our Cancer Woes

Ray Blanco

Breakthrough technologies can hold the most undiscovered money-making potential. What we’ve accomplished in a quarter century with cancer research could make you serious money and save countless lives. Ray Blanco has more on this ground breaking story...


Give Your Book Away For Free, Make More Money

Chris Campbell

The publishing industry is on its head. These days, it makes more sense to make money before you write your book and give it away for free once you do. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell shows you how to create a hit with those two counterintuitive steps. Read on…


How to Poke the Russian Bear in 3 Easy Steps

Greg Guenthner

Interested in buying the dip in Russian stocks this morning? Before you do, let’s try to knock some sense into that skull of yours. Late last week, I reminded you why we bid farewell to the big Russian bear back over the summer. At the time, Russia was one of the cheapest markets in the world. But cheap can always get even cheaper—and Russia is certainly no exception. With comic book supervillain Vlad Putin manning the controls from his secret Siberian lair, the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSE:RSX) has dropped a cold 20% since registering its late June highs. Does it have a shot at rebounding? Greg Guenthner explains…


Why Malpractice from the Fed Will Undermine Growth

Steve Forbes

The latest friend of ours to weigh in on the topic of the value of your money is Steve Forbes. As you’ve been reading this week, we paid a visit to Mr. Forbes recently, to discuss his latest book, Money. In this essay, you’ll find his thoughts on currency devaluation… it’s impact of economic growth and your investments…