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There has been plenty going on in financial markets lately, and not least of which has been the precious metals markets with gold prices hitting new highs in Australian dollar terms, and rallying almost 20% in the last few months to above US$1500. Other precious metals have also been similarly strong.
However, another metal that has been going gangbusters is nickel, with prices recently surging to five-year highs, and coming to within striking distance of US$19000 a tonne for the first time since 2014.
Against this backdrop there is a nickel stock we think you should consider owning…..
Nickel has broken above a major downward trend in recent weeks after a ten-year bear market.
What’s been happening, and why the surge?
Supply has been delivered a major shock, with Indonesia, which accounts for almost a quarter of global output, saying it will ban exports from December. This is set to create a major supply deficit next year, against the backdrop of strong demand due to the rising demand for electric vehicles.
Falling nickel stocks in LME-registered warehouses at 109,950 tonnes, down 20% so far this year, have fuelled supply concerns. This can be seen in the premium for the LME’s cash nickel over the three-month contract, which has risen above US$100 a tonne – its highest in more than a decade. The global nickel market is estimated at 14 million tonnes, and has been in deficit for some years now, and expectations were for a more balanced market next year. So prices could go a lot, lot higher.
It is estimated that the average EV could contain up to 70 kilograms of nickel per vehicle (the following image shows the commodity content of new model EVs by battery type). Nickel is also used in the steel industry, and this traditional market could also assert pressure on the nickel price over the next few years.Source: Reuters
On the other side there are these clear supply constraints, which will see nickel move toward a supply deficit in 2020, with recent draws on the London Metal Exchange inventories a telltale sign. The move by the Indonesian Government to ban exports two years ahead of the original timetable is significant – Indonesia produced 560 million tonnes of nickel ore in 2018 and accounts for around a quarter of global supply.
One correlation that not often discussed, is the one that exists between nickel and platinum. As can be seen on the chart below, both nickel (purple line) and platinum (orange line) have moved together in recent years – right up to the point where “both staged major multiyear decade long breakouts” within a week of each other!
How to play the bull market in nickel???
So, if you are a believer that the demand for electric vehicles will only increase, one way to play it is by having exposure to a high-class nickel miner, and one that is going to make money, the same of which might not be said of Tesla!
We have identified a strong play on the sector. The company is a high quality, pure play, nickel miner, with a strong operational track record, which was further evidenced by recent FY19 results. Brokers are also sitting up and taking notice and raising their price targets.
The company in 2019 produced nearly 18,000 tonnes of nickel at a cash price of A$2.98 per pound. With nickel currently trading at over US$5 per pound (circa A$7.50 per pound), operating margins will be significant. Any weakness in the A$ will add to the positive mix.
Robust margins are set to persist (and grow) for some time to come, based on our long-term view on the nickel market and developments in the auto industry.
This company is guiding for 2020 nickel output in the range of 21,000 to 22,000 tonnes and the unit cash cost of production to be in the range of A$2.90 to $3.30 per pound. The company has also recently delivered a very positive update on the exploration front.
What to know the name of this stock, and a way to benefit from the surging demand for electric vehicles and nickel?
Fresh out of the bursting of the dotcom bubble, one of Fat Prophets’ early calls was to buy gold at around US$262 an ounce. This was on the basis that the ensuing monetary easing by the Fed would erode the intrinsic value of the US$. Such was to prove correct, with the precious metals sector surging, as gold surged in the ensuing years to reach a peak of almost $1900 in 2011.
While not predicting the full extent of the Global Financial crisis, Fat Prophets’ was very vocal that the level of housing market write-offs was set to accelerate for the US banking sector. We said that the banking sector globally should be avoided and was a ‘no-go.’ The sub-prime disaster was of course what ultimately brought down a number of banks, and also ushered in the GFC.
Going back to 2014, and Qantas was the stock that the market loved to ‘hate’ with intense price competition, rising costs, and overcapacity. Fat Prophets however believed that a number of tailwinds were emerging with an ending of the domestic price war, and with a credible turnaround program under CEO Alan Joyce. After the airline turned a billion-dollar loss into a billion-dollar profit, the market started to agree. Brokers have subsequently started putting buys on QAN around the $6 mark. Fat Prophets has taken the exit for a gain of over 300%.
Not many were giving Donald Trump much of a chance of securing the Republican nomination let alone the US Presidency. Fat Prophets believed that a backlash against the establishment would see Donald Trump go onto be the 45th President of the United States. We all know what happened next.
In late 2014, early 2015, the majority of the investment community were bearish on iron ore, with a wide expectation that China was about to implode, and iron ore was going to US$20. Fat Prophets’ was on the contrarian side, calling a bottom around US$60, on the basis of a still strong Chinese economy, supported by stimulus, urbanisation, and with supply constraints emerging. Iron prices ultimately bottomed around US$50 and went onto surge past the US$120 mark.
With the trade war raging on and concerns over a global recession, oil prices plummeted in the fourth quarter of 2018. Fat Prophets took the view that OPEC would act to stabilise pricing by agreeing an output cut. Such was to prove the case, and with the cartel extending, and complying, with supply curbs well into 2019.
The fourth quarter of 2018 saw a traumatic sell-off, the likes of which had not been seen before, even in the GFC. An ongoing trade war and the prospect of Fed rate rises, had the markets fearing the worst. Fat Prophets took the opposing view and believed that investors would recalibrate their pessimistic expectations as 2019 got underway. The S&P500 did indeed stage a powerful rally in the first half of the year.
With the trade war weighing on sentiment, the Chinese stock market had a tough time in 2018. Fat Prophets however believed that both sides (the US/China) were motivated to ‘do a deal’ and saw the selling in China as excessive, given the market (CSI300 above) was trading on a PE of around 7 times. With China appearing to seize the upper hand in negotiations, the Chinese stock market has since gone onto perform strongly.
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CEO and Founder
He has a wealth of experience acquired over more than two decades in both domestic and international financial markets. Aside from running the Fat Prophets group. Angus has broad investment responsibilities within the Funds Management division, which manages close to $100 million.
Angus’s investment track record began in 1982 at the young age of 13. In 1986 he received a “highly commended“ award from the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce for increasing an initial investment of $200 to $35,000 on the world stock markets.
During his career, Angus has worked as a money market dealer in New Zealand, a financial consultant in the United Kingdom and the United States. Moving to Australia in 1996, Angus worked for five years as a stockbroker at Bankers Trust and JB Were before co-founding Fat Prophets in June 2000.
Majoring in Economics, Angus completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Otago University, New Zealand in1990. He is also a member of the Securities Institute of Australia having qualified for a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment in 1999.
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