A couple weeks back I discussed how silver could be used to leverage the price of gold, but what about silver mining stocks leveraging the price of silver? In the previous article, a four-year rolling leverage of silver over gold was calculated to show how silver either out-performed or under-performed gold as bull markets waxed and waned. Applying the same principles, we have the following 4-year leverages for the mining companies that make up our stock composite index.
The stocks are listed according to performance. The record maximum leverage is given to the right, as well as the date on which it occurred. The average of all the leverages is given at the bottom to show how this group as a whole is leveraging the price of silver. The average value of 1.76 tells us that over the last four years this basket of stocks returned 76% over and above any gains made by silver, it does not appear to be too dissimilar to how the HUI has leveraged the price of gold over the same period.
Clearly there is a wide range in performance amongst our representative shares. Anything around the 1 level is not worth owning as silver itself is as good as or outperforming that stock. That includes Orko (OTC:OKOFF), Hecla (NYSE:HL), Apex (NYSEARCA:SIL) and Silver Quest (NASDAQ:SQI) here. Now these stocks may go onto greater things, but until they make a decent breach above the “no leverage” level of one, caution is required in any investment decision.
However, looking at the leverage chart for Orko Silver below, we see some promise. After dropping to a miserable negative leverage of 0.6 last August, Orko has pushed onto 1.07 and is now slightly outperforming silver by 7% over a four-year measure. It also stands above its 200 day moving average value of 0.84 that needs to be maintained for a few weeks before one can consider this stock as solidly leveraging silver once more.
Meanwhile, Endeavour Silver (NYSE:EDR) sits at the top with an end of year leverage of 505% over silver. This is great but an apparent problem lies in the “Maximum” column, which states that this company returned a gargantuan leverage of 7258% over silver by the 31st December 2005. Since then it has dropped like a rock. Is this something to worry about? Not at all!
When one sees such huge gearings on the price of silver they are inevitably down to one thing. The company in question has seen significant reserve growth via discovery or acquisition. They have finally hit pay dirt with a big find or their current deposits have been substantially upgraded. Not surprisingly, in that 72.58 leverage timeframe, this company went from 2 cents a share to 2 dollars a share.
This is because a company leverages two quantities. It leverages the price of silver but it also leverages the amount of silver it has under its control. Once investors have assimilated this new reserves information and adjusted the share price accordingly, the leverage goes back to purely leveraging the market price of silver.
So we do not expect to see such leverage numbers again from Endeavour. Now the leverage is well below a historically skewed 200-day moving average of 15. But once the moving average works off those one off leverages, we expect the leverage to meet it and stay above it.
Quite simply, a leverage of 505% is enough to stay on board but if this number continues to drop in the face of a rising silver price, a re-evaluation will be required. For now the silver price is volatile and not in a well-established rising pattern, so this stock is a hold by default.
Finally, I may note that this four year rolling leverage chart is not the same as a chart produced by dividing the price of the equity by the price of silver. One must know that a stock’s performance is calculated by comparing two prices over a certain time period. Dividing two distinct asset prices from the same day does not measure leverage although it can show in a qualitative manner that a stock is out-performing or under-performing silver in this case.
By using a leverage chart such as those examined above, the performance question can be quantified by the simple fact that if the leverage drops below 1 it is under-performing silver and if it goes above 1 it is out-performing silver. A simple stock to silver price ratio cannot convey this information.