Is it springtime euphoria or March Madness? History is being made every few weeks in the uranium pricing market. Friday’s announcement by TradeTech’s Nuclear Market Review magazine, raising the weekly spot uranium price to US$95/pound, demonstrates another milestone. Soon, it won’t matter whether comparisons are made in constant U.S. dollars or inflation-adjusted currency.
This past week, three transactions were reported by NMR editor Treva Klingbiel for less than one million pounds U3O8 equivalent. Two transactions of 650 thousand pounds U3O8 equivalent contained in UF6 and one for less than 300 thousand pounds of U3O8 were completed in the past week. Material was sold for immediate and June deliveries.
“Seven buyers continue to seek over three million pounds,” according to Treva Klingbiel She added that several additional utilities have begun making preliminary inquiries about future purchases. “Buyers remain willing to pay higher prices,” Klingbiel wrote.
Perhaps higher uranium pricing prompted the transaction between Exelon (NYSE:EXC) and UrAsia Energy (OTC:UAEYF), announced this past week for 2.5 million pounds of U3O8 to be delivered to the Illinois-based utility between 2009 and 2013. The uranium will be mined at UrAsia’s Akdala and South Inkai in situ recovery operations in Kazakhstan.
NMR announced another 100 thousand pounds will be offered for sale in a sealed-bid auction next week with delivery in April. While the company was not named, nearly everyone in the uranium sector believes this unnamed company would be Mestena Uranium LLC. The private, publicity-shy company is based in Corpus Christi (Texas) and could be responsible for the spot uranium price reaching, or surpassing, the US$100/pound level sometime next week.
Given its current momentum, yellowcake or uranium oxide may someday trade on par with the price of silver. U3O8 is now priced at US$6.51/ounce (if measured in troy ounces as are silver and gold). By comparison, spot silver closed on March 23rd at US$13.13/ounce so it may take a while longer.
After a strong sell-off in late February and early March, uranium stocks have exhibited durability, clawing back into higher ground. Chart courtesy of www.theinvestar.com which tracks both Canadian and Australian stocks. In the Canadian chart, 43 uranium companies – each with more than C$40 million in market capitalization comprise this weekly index. The Australian Index tracks 25 companies, which own uranium assets.
Uranium mining and exploration stocks have begun reflecting the weekly price rise in spot uranium, rebounding from the sell off in late February and early March. Many of the near-term producers don’t require $100/pound uranium to show a profit on their mining efforts, but the high price excites investors – many of whom appear to be doing a ‘New Year’s Countdown’ as spot uranium approaches US$100/pound.
We talked with Matthew Smith, who created a Canadian and Australian stock index. He is not a registered investment advisor. Smith began tracking a portfolio of 43 Canadian uranium and 25 Australian stocks as an index so that investors could quickly compare how their uranium stocks fared against his non-weighted stock index.
While Smith does not dispense investment advice, he told us, “I did not believe the uranium bull market was over.” He was referring to the recent sell off. “Bull markets never end that way,” he added. “The index rebounded accordingly, as it rose 10 percent from the bottom of the short correction, which is typical of corrections in volatile markets. We have formed a bit of support over the past 2-3 weeks and it could go higher.”
Smith believes both the Canadian and Australians stock indexes could test their all-time highs over the next two months. He explained both indexes are dependent upon developments in the sector. He cited drivers for uranium stocks would include higher remediation costs at Cigar Lake, a change in the Australian uranium mining policy, superlative drill results from exploration companies and more consolidation in the junior mining sector, especially one with a large premium attached.
Smith also invests in uranium stocks and provided us with his basket of favorite uranium stocks, which he considers the ‘least speculative’ in his portfolio. Of stocks found in his Canadian uranium index, Smith likes UR-Energy (OTC:UREGF), Strathmore Minerals (OTC:STHJF), SXR Uranium One (SXRFF.PK), Paladin Resources (OTCPK:PALAF) and Pitchstone Exploration [TSX: PHP]. Among Australian stocks, Smith prefers PepinNini [ASX: PNN] and Berkeley Resources [ASX: BKY].
TradeTech’s chart shows the parabolic uranium price rise continues. TradeTech posts the weekly spot price on the consulting service’s website at www.uranium.info
Note: Julie Ickes co-wrote this article.
Disclosure: Authors have no position in the above-mentioned securities