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A Spirited Combination With a Silver Lining

Stocks in this article: PAAS STZ

With its 350 million ounces of silver reserves and 2.6 million ounces of gold, things are definitely looking up at PAAS. That's partly because of its early-spring acquisition of a company called Mine-Finders, which owned the mineral rights at a mine named "Dolores", which means "sorrows" in Latin.

The Dolores mine also causes sorrows for those who weren't as smart as Pan American Silver. Once PAAS controlled Dolores it boosted both its silver reserves and gold reserves significantly, as you can read about at its informative Web site.

In fact, one of the best ways to explain what PAAS is by quoting the home page: "Pan American Silver Corp. is a Canadian silver mining company based in Vancouver, BC. The company was founded in 1994 with the intention to provide investors with the best vehicle to gain real exposure to silver."

It goes on to tell us that after 16 years of "consecutive production and financial growth, Pan American is the second-largest primary silver mining company in the world, with eight operating silver mines in Peru, Mexico, Argentina and Bolivia."

There are plenty of reasons to want to own shares of PAAS besides the impressive 36% operating margins (trailing 12 months) and the 28% profit margins. The company's board of directors launched a meaningful stock buyback program to purchase up to 5% of its outstanding shares in 2012.

The company's silver production was threatened by the unfriendly policies of the Argentine government, which levied huge increases in government royalties and taxes on Pan American's most promising silver project, Navidad, which is also one of the largest undeveloped silver deposits in the world. It's located in Chubut province.

PAAS addresses this on its Web site. The company is going forward with the plans, and explained it "... remains confident that by operating in good faith and by maintaining an open and transparent dialogue with the local communities and the Provincial government in Chubut, it will be successful in communicating the benefits that the responsible development of Navidad will bring to the project's immediate area of influence, the Province and Argentina."

In the meantime PAAS has given guidance that it will produce around 25 million ounces of silver in 2012 at a cost of $12.50 per ounce. Silver's current spot price is nearing $35 an ounce. So there's a great deal of profit waiting to be made.

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