Monday, January 03, 2023
Mark Reichman, Senior Research Analyst, Natural Resources, Noble Capital Markets, Inc.
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Mining companies outperform the broader market. During the fourth quarter, mining companies (as measured by the XME) appreciated 17.2% compared to a gain of 7.1% for the S&P 500 index. The VanEck Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) and Junior Gold Miners (GDXJ) ETFs were up 18.8% and 21.0%, respectively. Gold, silver, copper, and lead futures prices gained 9.2%, 26.3%, 12.3%, and 6.1%, respectively, while zinc declined 1.1%. For the full year 2022, all indices outperformed the S&P 500 which declined 19.4%. Despite aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and U.S. dollar strength, gold performed as a store of value with the price ending just under where it began the year.
Will precious metals break out to the upside? The U.S. Dollar Index declined 7.7% during the fourth quarter, while the yield on the 10-year treasury note increased from 3.80% to 3.88%. While the Federal Reserve has signaled higher rates, an inflection point may have been reached as investors sought to preserve value amid deteriorating economic conditions, geopolitical uncertainty and market volatility. In our view, interest rates could peak by mid-year with the potential for easing depending on economic conditions. We think precious metals prices around current levels are sufficient for mining companies to be profitable and attract new investment. Our outlook is for range-bound pricing around current levels with a modest upward bias in the first half of 2023.
Less certain near-term outlook for industrial metals. While the price of copper declined 13.2% in 2022, the price rebounded in the fourth quarter. On a full year basis, zinc and lead prices were down 6.1% and up 1.2%, respectively. While the long-term investment case for owning industrial metals mining companies remains favorable, it may be too early to offer a bullish call due to near-term concerns about economic growth in the U.S. and abroad.
Putting it all together. In our view, precious metals mining companies, notably exploration companies, continue to offer attractive return potential. Should gold and silver prices hold recent gains, investors may begin to invest more confidently and aggressively. While the near-term outlook for industrial metals could be negatively impacted by near-term macroeconomic factors, an eventual return to economic growth could result in strong prices due to potential supply and demand imbalances.
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ANALYST CREDENTIALS, PROFESSIONAL DESIGNATIONS, AND EXPERIENCE
Senior Equity Analyst focusing on Basic Materials & Mining. 20 years of experience in equity research. BA in Business Administration from Westminster College. MBA with a Finance concentration from the University of Missouri. MA in International Affairs from Washington University in St. Louis.
Named WSJ ‘Best on the Street’ Analyst and Forbes/StarMine’s “Best Brokerage Analyst.”
FINRA licenses 7, 24, 63, 87
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