Mining stocks in the 2nd half of 2008
Oil is in the middle of the summer breather, gold has backed off the stellar highs reached in the 1st quarter. Inflation is in the background, and the mortgage housing crisis continues to hinder the financial markets. Well back on July 2nd I mentioned that
“Energy shortages, most notably in South Africa but also in North America and Chile, forced supply down artificially helping to boost prices. But that is a problem that has been in the works of being fixed since the 1st quarter. Once it is done supply will rise to meet the growing demand and be a signal for profit taking.”
It seems I was right. So what might an investor do and look forward to?
Mining stocks continue to hold one of the better risk reward scenarios for a long term outlook, I think. While many sectors of the markets are slowing there is huge potential in the mining sector for reasons most are not discussing now.
Because of the huge run on gold and precious metal prices early in the year, many of the mining companies took the opportunity to horde cash and survey the landscape. Several of these companies are taking the current indecision in the markets to use that cash to acquire some of the competition. Lonmin was recently offered a takeover valued at roughly $2.5 billion. Vale of Brazil is looking for a potential match with $12 billion in its coffers, while BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are doing merger dances.
But a merger is only one reason why the current lull in metal demands is a buying opportunity in mining stocks. China and India are far from peak of their demand for metals. Both of their economies are in growth phases and require more raw resources.
China is not only using more metal, they require much more energy. Already China has grabbed the excess crude oil that has become available from the slowdown in the United States. Soon they will have increased their need enough to be driving up crude oil prices even if America lessens its demand via domestic drilling or increases alternative fuel sources.
And of course there is the aspect of fuel sources outside of crude oil. The world is looking for options and needs energy until a renewable alternative becomes viable. That means an increase in mining and processing of oil shale, coal, and uranium. While nuclear has its detractors it provides too much energy to be ignored, and is relatively clean. A new process for coal is in talks in America, making its use cleaner and a readily available domestic stopgap for crude oil. And oil shale has a potential that still remains unknown on the large scale.
Each and every one of the reasons above is likely to show their influence before the end of the year. With the political situation in America poised to change energy consumption trends after the Presidential election, mergers creating more efficient (and profitable) mining companies, demand pressure from China and India even a slight increase in crude oil prices (as winter approaches) or a rush to gold and other precious metals as a hedge for inflation and/or weak markets means that mining stocks are well poised to outperform virtually all other sectors by the end of 2008.