Canada’s legendary natural resource investor, Eric Sprott, has got moly fever! His eponymous management firm is now preparing a molybdenum participation fund, which will buy and sell physical molybdenum. The Sprott Molybdenum Participation Corp will also invest in companies that explore for, mine and process the metal.
Sound familiar? Uranium Participation Corp (OTCPK:URPTF) debuted in late 2005, accumulating physical uranium for as low as US$20/pound range. Shares in the uranium fund nearly doubled in 2006 in tandem with the spot uranium price.
We interviewed Eric Sprott in October 2004, when he forecast the steep rise in uranium and offered his selection. As usual Sprott Asset Management had entered the uranium market through large, very speculative investments in complete unknowns. Since then, those unfamiliar penny stocks have begun boasting market capitalizations well above $1 billion. Examples include SXR Uranium One, which recently announced a $5 billion merger with UrAsia, and Paladin Resources, which once traded at for three cents, and is now capitalized around C$3 billion.
We followed many ‘Sprott stocks,’ some trading sub-$1/share in 2004, and which have recently traded above $12/share – such as Energy Metals (EMU). At one point, the Sprott family of funds held more than 20 percent of the shares in uranium companies such as Energy Metals and Strathmore Minerals. In late February, Jim Cramer recommended Energy Metals on his ‘Mad Money’ television show.
Last summer’s big question in Canada’s financial circles and in the media was: ‘What will be Eric Sprott’s next big thing?’ We concluded it would be molybdenum stocks and reported on that in late July. We interviewed Sprott Asset Management research associate Maria Smirnova and discussed how investing in molybdenum stocks might be another way to ride the energy bull. Because investors had little idea how to pronounce the metal’s name properly, let alone understand what the fuss was about, we set up an educational page to find out more about molybdenum.
While nickel, zinc and uranium prices have soared, molybdenum lagged behind in 2006. After a stellar 2005, during which moly prices jumped to a record $40, increased byproduct mining from copper producers brought the moly price back into the twenties.
But that may not last long. Changes in China’s export laws may help the molybdenum price firm up, according to Ken Reser, one of the early molybdenum mining commentators. In our email exchanges, Reser strongly believes the molybdenum price could go much higher. He’s backed Adanac Molybdenum Corp, a company which hopes to bring its large Ruby Creek deposit into production in 2009.
Early Sprott favorite, Blue Pearl Mining (OTC:BLEFF), has since become the world’s fifth largest primary molybdenum producer and is the world’s largest publicly traded primary molybdenum company. The key word is “since.” After Eric Sprott began backing the company, Blue Pearl announced the acquisition of privately held Thompson Creek Metals Company for US$575 million. The acquisition brought the then-tiny company into the molybdenum mining spotlight. During 2007, the company plans to produce about 21 million pounds of molybdenum (gross value at Friday’s closing price: US$593 million). That’s about five percent of global molybdenum mining production!
Another Sprott favorite, Roca Mines (OTCPK:ROCAF) hopes to commence molybdenum mining operations this spring as a small-scale producer in British Columbia. The company hopes to expand its molybdenum deposit by pouring in some of the cash flow from its mining production during the first year in hopes of building a much bigger moly mine.
Judging from Eric Sprott’s keen investment eye, the molybdenum price may soon be rising again. And, of course, so will the moly stocks his fund invests in. (We have no relationship with Sprott Asset Management.)
Disclosure: Author has no position in any of the above-mentioned securities.