Pan American: Out-of-Favor Buy in Silver

03/31/2015 7:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Ian Wyatt

Publisher & Chief Investment Strategist, Wyatt Investment Research

Commodities have been ruled by uncertainty and fear; the S&P GSCI Commodity Index is near its 2009 lows, a time when everything was on sale, suggests Ian Wyatt, editor of High Yield Wealth.

But one thing we've learned is that when uncertainty and fear reign, opportunity lurks in the shadows.
   
Shares of Pan American Silver (PAAS) have gone down along with the price of silver. Indeed, in the past year, it's down roughly 36%. 

Sluggish economic growth around the world has weighed on silver prices for the past two years. Unlike gold, silver is a large-scale industrial metal. In 2014, 54% of total physical silver demand came from industrial uses, according to Silver Institute data.

The good news is the outlook is up for silver. Total industrial demand is forecast to grow 27%, adding an additional 142 million ounces of silver demand through 2018 compared with 2013 levels, according to the Silver Institute. Half of this growth will be accounted for by the electrical and electronics sector.

But to get to the future, we need to endure the present. The drop in silver prices has lead to a drop in earnings.

Pan American recorded a net loss of $3.48 per share in the fourth quarter. The loss was mostly due to a half-billion dollar impairment charge related to low silver prices. Without the charge, Pan American reported a net loss of $0.14 per share. 

Until silver recovers, its unlikely Pan American's share price will recover. That said, investors can collect a $0.50 annual dividend per share, which yields 5.6%, while waiting for the recovery.

Of course, we have to ask, is the dividend sustainable? I think so. Pan American formulated its 2015 plans based on a $17 per ounce silver price and $1,200 per ounce gold price.

Both silver and gold are priced below that today, but the projection appears reasonable for the full year.

But if it is not, Pan American still has sufficient liquidity to maintain operations and pay the dividend. The balance sheet sports $330 million in cash, which is $2.18 a share and only $60 million in long-term debt. There is plenty of liquidity.  

Investors are always looking to buy low. Pan American is trading at a 10-year low. Of course, there is room to go lower, but I think there is even more room to go higher.

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