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Lithium Miners can be a Good bet for the Long-Term

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Long-term trends, if identified early can be a profitable investment. In such stories, the investor can buy and hold a stock till there is a clear visibility of earnings. One such sector that fits the bill is the Lithium miners. Let’s analyze in detail.

Key observations

  1. Electric vehicles will slowly replace the fossil fuel powered vehicles
  2. As a result, demand for Lithium-ion battery will grow exponentially for the next few years
  3. There is no replacement for lithium-ion batteries
  4. Lithium supply is unlikely to keep up with the demand
  5. Lithium miners will be direct beneficiaries

What are the uses of Lithium?

After debuting 26 years ago in a Sony CCD-TR1 camcorder, lithium-ion batteries have gained widespread use in consumer products, electric vehicles and energy storage.

Last year, lithium-ion batteries equal to a storage capacity of about 45 gigawatt-hours (GWh) were used by the consumer products, according to The Economist. In comparison, the electric vehicles (EVs) only needed about half of the capacity: 25GWh.

However, with the boom in the electric vehicles, demand will increase exponentially. Lithium prices have already doubled in just over a year.

How much demand will the electric vehicles industry generate in the future?

According to Goldman Sachs, EVs will increase their market share from 0.2% of all vehicles sold in 2016 to about 5% in 2030.

However, with advances in technology and price of EVs dropping rapidly, it is likely that the above assumption of Goldman Sachs will be reached much earlier, especially if China and India adhere to their plans.

China wants 12% of all car sales to be from battery-powered or plug-in hybrids by 2020, whereas, India wants all its vehicles to be electrically powered by 2030.

Lithium-ion battery production to skyrocket

Strong EVs sales will stoke demand for the lithium-ion batteries. The top battery manufacturers are gearing up for this challenge by increasing their capacities rapidly. Leading the way is Tesla, with their huge $5 billion gigafactory, which is expected to produce about 4GWh a year from this year. By 2018, Tesla wants to produce 35GWh, a nine-fold jump within two years.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts lithium-ion battery demand from electric vehicles to increase from 21 gigawatt-hours in 2016 to 1,300 gigawatt-hours in 2030.

Some of the other areas where lithium demand is expected to grow is shown in the table below.

Agreed that the demand for the lithium-ion batteries is going up. But, is there a shortage of Lithium?  Will the raw material prices shoot up or is there abundant supply that can push prices down?

Lithium demand and supply

Considering the huge demand for lithium, several projects have been announced that are likely to increase the supply in the near future. However, will this lead to a supply glut similar to crude oil? Let’s listen to some experts in the field.

Joe Lowry, lithium industry consultant and commentator, believes that even with all the new supply additions, “supply shortage will cause significant issues in the battery supply chain by 2023.” (“Lithium Investment at the Crossroads”, July 17, 2017).

Chile’s SQM has been a leader in lithium production for almost two decades. Its Chief Executive Patricio de Solminihac believes that the present demand for lithium is about 200,000 tonnes LCE, which is likely to grow by about 14% per year.

“We believe it is highly probable that worldwide demand will exceed 500,000 tonnes by 2025,” said Solminihac, reports Reuters.

A few analysts, however, believe that lithium supply will overtake demand as soon as next year.

Rebecca Gordon of the UK-based consultancy CRU believes that by 2018, lithium supply will meet demand if all the new projects come online. This will cause a sharp drop in prices from the current levels.

Can the demand stall due to advance in battery technology?

The popularity of electric cars is unlikely to slowdown anytime in the near future. However, is there a technology that can make the lithium-ion batteries redundant or replace them?

Recently, Bill Joy, the Silicon Valley guru and Sun Microsystems Inc. co-founder, announced a new alkaline battery that can compete with lithium-ion and better it in certain areas. Though this is a revolutionary find, it is yet years away from mass adoption. According to Joy, it may take another five years for it to gain wider acceptance.

Lithium-ion battery prices are dropping with new advances in technology. Prices fell 73% between 2010 to 2016. Therefore, any new entrant will find it difficult to displace lithium-ion from its leadership position.

Hence, lithium demand is here to stay, at least for the next decade.

Now, after having established a strong demand growth for lithium, let’s search for a stock to invest in.

What companies do we like and why?

We shall cover two companies in short. If the readers feel that the lithium story is compelling, we shall delve into greater detail in examining these stocks in the future.

Sociedad Quimica y Minera (NYSE: SQM)

Sociedad Quimica y Minera is one of the largest producer of lithium in the world. It is based in Chile, which has the largest lithium resources in the world.

Source: Statista

It is a dividend paying company, though the dividend amount keeps varying depending on the company’s profitability. However, with greater demand, SQM is likely to increase its earning and thereby its dividend.

Payment Year Amount
2016 $1.46
2015 $0.47
2014 $1.4
2013 $1.04
2012 $1.26

In terms of valuation, the stock is quoting at price/earnings of 35.3, which is way above its 5-year average of 21.7 and the industry average of 21.7.

Nevertheless, with its leadership position and a growing demand, the results are likely to surprise on the upside and the price/earnings multiple will look more reasonable after a few quarters.

What do the charts suggest? Is it time to buy?

SQM was stuck below the $32.8 level for more than three and half years. Finally, the stock broke out of the resistance in March of this year. The stock successfully retested the breakout levels twice and has since then resumed its uptrend. The stock doesn’t have any major resistance until it reaches $59 levels. However, periodically, every stock corrects.

Therefore, at the current levels, we shall only buy 25% of the allocation. Rest 50% should be purchased when the stock falls to the trendline support and the final 25% allocation should be done once the stock resumes its uptrend after a correction. We don’t want to hold the stock if it starts to trade below the $32 levels. That will signal a change in the fundamentals of SQM or the sector as a whole.

The stock can easily surpass its lifetime highs in a couple of years if the demand projections prove correct.

Orocobre Limited (OTCPK: OROCF)

The second stock that we like is an Australian based company Orocobre limited. The company holds 66.5% interest in the Olaroz lithium brine mine in Argentina, which is operated by them and is their flagship project.

They plan to ramp up production in the next 2-3 years, without issuing any new equity, according to the company’s latest presentation. If they are able to achieve their target, the stock is likely to get re-rated.

Currently, the stock is being punished as its production in June quarter was 2,536 tonnes of lithium carbonate compared to 2,784 tonnes in the March quarter. The company attributed the fall to bad weather. Nevertheless, the markets did not buy the argument and punished the stock.

This is a risky stock. We are not buying this for its past track record, but are expecting it to get its act together and reap the benefits of the lithium boom. Therefore, the allocation to this stock should be low.

When should one buy? Let’s look at the charts.

This is a volatile and trendless stock as seen in the charts. It is stuck in a range of $1 to $4.

Nevertheless, it has already fallen from its highs of $4, thereby reducing the risk. We can keep a stop below $1 and buy 25% of the allocation at the current levels. Next 50% can be bought if price falls to $2 levels. The last 25% should be invested once the stock breaks out of $4 and makes a new lifetime high.

We believe that the downside risk in the stock is limited, whereas its upward potential is attractive.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 9 rated postsRakesh Upadhyay is a Technical Analyst and Portfolio Consultant for The Summit Group. He has more than a decade of experience as a private trader. His philosophy is to use technical analysis for momentum trading and fundamental analysis for long-term positions. Rakesh likes to keep himself fit by lifting weights and considers himself to be a spiritual person.




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  1. fermera_dany

    September 17, 2017 at 11:37 am

    If one is to follow this articles advises, which platform shall the one choose / use to buy some stocks?
    Living in EU (Bulgaria).

    Regards,
    Daniel

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Commodities

Oil Prices Plunge as Saudi Arabia Prepares Record Output

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Oil prices declined sharply Monday amid reports that Saudi Arabia is heeding to President Trump’s request to keep the energy market well supplied. OPEC’s kingpin is stepping up its contractual obligations to key Asian markets amid disruptions from Venezuela and Libya, among others.

Oil Prices Drop

Crude futures in New York and London were down more than 4% on Monday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contracts for August settlement bottomed at $67.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest in nearly a month. Prices would later consolidate at $68.11 a barrel for a decline of $2.90, or 4.1%.

ICE Brent futures for September delivery bottomed at $71.80 a barrel, the lowest in three months. It was last down $3.16, or 4.1%, at $72.17 a barrel.

Saudi Arabia Ramping Up Production

Bloomberg reported Monday that the Saudis are planning to offer extra crude volumes to some of their Asian buyers less than a month after Riyadh convinced fellow OPEC members to crank up daily production levels.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co. has offered extra cargoes of its Arab Extra Light crude to at least two buyers in Asia, Bloomberg said. If approved, the additional supplies will be shipped for August.

Last month, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to raise production by 600,000 barrels per day, paving the way for an eventual 1 million-barrel-per-day increase for the cartel and its allies. The Saudis are planing to pump at record levels to offset supply disruptions elsewhere.

OPEC’s secondary sources indicate that the Saudis began ramping up production before the biannual meeting in Vienna on June 22, where cartel members agreed to ease supply restrictions. According to the data, Saudi Arabia boosted its daily output by 405,400 barrels in June compared with May.

Riyadh is also looking to pick up the slack from Iran, which faces renewed sanctions after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal. The Saudis are said to be targeting crude output at 10.8 million barrels per day, the largest on record.

Trump Succeeding in Reining In Oil Prices

President Trump has criticized OPEC’s policies and has called on producers to raise their output in order to cap runaway price growth.

“Oil prices are too high, OPEC is at it again. Not good!” Trump tweeted in June. Earlier this month, he said: “The OPEC Monopoly must remember that gas prices are up & they are doing little to help. If anything, they are driving prices higher as the United States defends many of their members for very little $’s. This must be a two way street. REDUCE PRICING NOW!”

With political pressure to rein in oil prices intensifying ahead of the midterm elections, the Trump administration has announced it is considering tapping the nation’s emergency crude supply. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve currently houses a total inventory of 660 million crude barrels, though options under review suggest that figure is between 5 million barrels and 30 million barrels lower.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 498 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Commodities

Brent Crude Oil: $100 Per Barrel Is In Sight

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Crude oil has been moving steadily higher for months, despite a recent short-term blip, and it may not be long before we are looking at triple-digit prices once again. Eighty-dollar Brent is the most recent target, reflecting the highest level the commodity has seen in years and the closest its come to 2008 record highs of $150 per barrel.

And while market forces aka Saudi Arabia may be doing what they can to control the price, there is a wildcard that could send oil futures soaring to near $100 per barrel once again, and according to a market strategist on CNBC, it’s Venezuela.

Bob Parker of Quilvest Wealth Management said on the business network that Venezuela holds the key to unlocking near-$100 oil prices once again. If Venezuela, which is mired in economic depression, were to bring oil production to a total halt, it could serve as an impetus to send crude oil futures soaring to levels not witnessed in years.

A combination of production cuts inspired by OPEC and rising demand around the world has thrust the oil price to the $80 per barrel level in May, back to 2014 levels. Surplus worries have taken some steam out of the rally, at least in the short-term, as the US has been ramping up production. But Saudi Arabia has still been calling the global shots, and they like oil in the $70-$80 range.

The Wall Street Journal

Parker believes that the oil kingpins — Saudia Arabia, other OPEC nations and Russia — have reached their goal to “clear this industry from overhang from the oil market.” It’s been on again, off again for production cues, and if they had their way, oil prices would persist at current levels.

“I think what they are concerned about is that they ideally would like to avoid a spike in the oil price, let’s say towards $100 a barrel, because they are very sensitive to the fact that a spike would then lead to a generalized global downturn,” Parker told CNBC.

Venezuela Wildcard

Energy is the heart of the Venezuelan economy, and therefore it’s the industry that’s been hit the hardest. It’s been displaced by Colombia for oil exports to the U.S., and production has been falling sharply.

Latin American crude production has been slashed by some 40% in the past three years and is currently hovering at about 1.4 million barrels per day amid Venezuela’s hyperinflation and food crisis. If Venezuelan production were to come to a complete halt, and there’s no indication that the worst is over, it could thrust crude futures back to triple-digit- territory.

It’s not just one market strategist that predicts $100 per barrel oil. RBC’s Helima Croft similarly believes that a perfect storm could send Brent up to lofty levels, with the Venezuelan economic demise the deciding factor.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 23 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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Commodities

Oil Prices Post Biggest Drop in a Year as Russia, OPEC Weigh Abandoning Output Deal

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Oil prices sold off Friday at their fastest pace in a year after major energy producers said they may soon begin lowering production limits.

Energy Ministers Weigh Easing Output Caps

A group of two-dozen producer nations are considering a gradual exit from an output deal put in place last year to rebalance an oversupplied crude market. Under the deal, Russia, OPEC and others agreed to reduce crude supplies by 1.8 million barrels per day.

Russia was especially vocal about lowering and eventually abandoning output quotas in support of a balanced market after Moscow’s energy minister met with his Saudi counterpart in St. Petersburg.

“The moment is coming when we should consider assessing ways to exit the deal very seriously and gradually ease quotas on output cuts,” Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said, according to Reuters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also said Friday his country does not support runaway oil prices, a sign that the world’s largest energy producer was prepared to ramp up production soon.

“We’re not interested in an endless rise in the price of energy and oil,” Putin said in St. Petersburg on Friday. “I would say we’re perfectly happy with $60 a barrel. Whatever is above that can lead to certain problems for consumers, which also isn’t good for producers.”

The Russian leader echoed previous comments made by Iranian officials, who indicated that a range of $60 to $65 a barrel was fair market value for crude. The Saudis, meanwhile, were said to be targeting prices above $80 a barrel.

OPEC and its allies are planning to gather in their Vienna headquarters June 22 to discuss a new output deal. Output will most likely increase, though the details of the production rise remain unclear.

Oil Prices Sink

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures plunged 4.2% to $67.70 a barrel, the biggest fall since June 2017. The contract settled at worst level in over three weeks.

Brent crude fell 3.1% to $76.39 a barrel, its lowest since May 8. The international futures benchmark traded above $80 a barrel last week for the first time since 2014.

Energy shares were dragged along for the ride, as the sector fell 2.6%. Dow industrials Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp fell 3.5% and 1.9%, respectively.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 498 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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