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The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
By Ivan Martchev, InvestorPlace.com
NEW YORK (
InvestorPlace) -- The Nikkei has been brutalized in trading that has been attempting to price in the economic damage from the earthquake and tsunami. So far, the damage looks to be four to five times larger than the Kobe disaster -- and with several problematic nuclear reactors still in unstable condition, experts now fear overheating and a total meltdown of the nuclear rods.
We all hope that a Chernobyl-type catastrophe can be averted, but the situation is too unstable to predict at the moment. If we end up facing a worst-case scenario, the pressure on nuclear-related stocks should continue over the short term. The reaction is understandable, but erroneous, as without nuclear power the world's future energy needs probably cannot be satisfied.
In the next 10 years there are around 108 additional new reactors expected to be built, with 19 scheduled to be shut down, so the net addition of new reactors is substantial. China is building 42; India and Russia are building 12 each. The emerging world is going ahead with its energy plans regardless of what happens in Tokyo -- it has no choice.
And global instability also continues elsewhere in the world. Even though headlines have died down, the battle in Libya there rages on, and opposition leaders are sounding desperate, calling for air strikes on Gadhafi. With oil hovering near $100 a barrel, it is easy to dismiss the high price as a result of geopolitical tensions, but my long-term research indicates that we are likely facing much higher energy prices because oil simply will not be enough to satisfy the world's energy needs. This is yet another reason why uranium is here to stay.
The safest stock to bottom-fish with in the nuclear sector is
Cameco(CCJ - Get Report), as the majority of its contracts are done on a long-term basis and the company has very little exposure the volatility of the cash uranium market. Cameco will be supplying uranium long after the headlines from Japan die down. Other more speculative uranium names that I previously liked with more exposure to the cash market -- such as
Denison Mines(DNN) -- are likely to underperform notably in the current environment.