Sunday, September 9

Week 375 - Producers Of Gold, Silver And Copper In The 2017 Barron’s 500 List

Situation: Commodity producers have a dismal record. Spot prices fall whenever mining (or drilling or harvesting) becomes more efficient. To make matters worse, supply-chain management and investment has become increasingly global and professionalized. Nonetheless, copper sales remain the best barometer of fixed-asset investment, particularly the ongoing proliferation of industrial plants and equipment in China. Silver has a growing role, thanks to the buildout of solar power. And gold remains a check on the propensity of government leaders everywhere to finance their dreams with debt, as opposed to revenue from taxes.

Mission: Use our Standard Spreadsheet to highlight the largest companies producing gold, silver, and copper.

Execution: see Table.

Administration: Gold and silver prices remain stuck where they were 35 years ago but are characterized by high volatility. Commodity prices (in the aggregate) trace supercycles that last approximately 20 years. The most recent came from a 1999 low and fell back to that level in 2016; since then it has ever so slowly risen from that low.

Bottom Line: The basic rule for commodity producers is that 3 years out of 30 will be good years, and you’ll make a lot of money. But over any 20-30 year period, you’ll lose money (measured by inflation-adjusted dollars). Our Table for this week confirms these points but does show that copper (SCCO) is worth an investor’s attention. But beware! That company’s share price is falling because of a falloff in trade with China and could fall further if a trade war takes hold.

Risk Rating: 10 (where 10-Yr US Treasury Notes = 1, S&P 500 = 5, and gold bullion = 10).

Full Disclosure: I do not have positions in any commodity producers aside from Exxon Mobil (XOM), but do dollar-average into the main provider of mining equipment: Caterpillar (CAT).

"The 2 and 8 Club" (CR) 2017 Invest Tune All rights reserved.

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