Uranium prices are at low levels, but have recently started to show signs of strength. While nuclear power has taken its share of lumps in the past few years, the longer-term outlook is strong. A J.P. Morgan analyst predicts that uranium prices will rise to an average roughly $70 per pound in 2013 and an average of $85 in 2014. That is based on analysis of the current market and supply and demand forecasts for the next couple of years. If uranium hits those price targets, the undervalued stocks in this sector could be great buying opportunities today. With that in mind, it could be time to invest in uranium stocks.
Denison Mines Corp. (DNN) is focused on uranium exploration and development with projects and interests in Saskatchewan, Zambia and Mongolia. It has a 22.5% ownership interest in the McClean Lake uranium mill, located in Saskatchewan. It also has a major interest in the Wheeler River project which is also located in the high-potential Athabasca Basin region of Saskatchewan. Last year, Denison sold its U.S. mining to Energy Fuels, Inc. which allows the company to increase the focus on the remaining mines. It makes sense for the company to do this considering that uranium prices have been weak.
Uranium was trading near $78 in 2008, it then declined significantly to the low $40 level during the 2008 financial crisis, and rose again to about $72 in early 2011, only to get taken lower after the nuclear crisis in Japan. The spot price seems to have bottomed out in October 2012, at about $41.75 and has risen slightly to around $43 recently.
With uranium prices at low levels but starting to climb, it could be time to go bottom fishing in this sector. The long-term outlook for uranium remains strong because of the ongoing demand for nuclear power. Because of this, it might not be long before uranium prices rebound further. Plus, with the European debt crisis now seemingly under control and with the global economy slowly improving, the fundamentals are improving for energy demand of all types.
At just over $1 per share, Denison is priced like a stock option that could pay off big in the future. If uranium prices go back towards the highs of 2008 and 2011, or even beyond in the future, the uranium assets this company has will be significantly more valuable. The Athabasca project it has looks promising since that region is known as one of the richest high grade uranium deposits in the world. Other leading companies in this sector are also focused on the Athabasca Basin, and this includes producing majors like Cameco Corp. (CCJ) to smaller but promising companies like Athabasca Uranium Inc. (ATURF.PK). The smaller companies could become very attractive investments and even takeover targets in a higher price environment for uranium, especially since this sector has seen mergers and acquisitions in the past.
Investors who want to invest in a profitable and well-known uranium producer should probably stick with Cameco. Analysts expect Cameco to earn about $1 for 2012 and $1.38 in 2013. That makes Cameco less speculative, but it is the smaller companies in this sector might provide the most upside if uranium returns to its former highs.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.