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TheStreet Open House

Nuclear Winter? Not Yet!

Stocks in this article: GLD SLV

By Andrey Dashkov, Research Analyst

NEW YORK ( Casey Research) -- The late 1990s for the resource sector was so challenging that it is now often referred to as the nuclear winter of the industry. Some analysts are comparing our current circumstances to that period, while others purport we haven't hit bottom yet.

In its "Business Risks in Mining and Metals 2013-2014" report, Ernst and Young said capital allocation and access is now the number one challenge the resource sector is facing. While production-stage companies are rationing capital expenditures to meet long-term goals, the juniors don't have this luxury; they need to raise money just to keep the lights on.

The report says the current situation is the worst market in 10 years. Since International Speculator deals mostly with the early-stage companies, we set out to see exactly how bad it is.

To do that, we pulled data on 10,521 private placements closed by TSX-V-listed metals and mining companies since Jan. 1, 1999, and compared the financing market now to the infamous nuclear winter. Here's what we found:

The data show that metals and mining companies closed only 36 private placements in the second quarter of 2003, raising $17.6 million Canadian. By comparison, so far in the second quarter of 2013, metals and mining companies closed 150 financings for a total of $192.6 million Canadian. This clearly shows that the current market, while definitely under pressure, is not as bad as it was 10 years ago.

The market is also stronger now than from 1999 to 2001, when little financing activity took place. That period indeed was a desert for a metals and mining company.

For a clearer picture, let's zoom in on that period:

Before things picked up at the end of 2002, the junior metals and mining sector was in a miserable state for at least two years, as the chart shows. Further, a few large deals skewed the data; for example, Mazarin and Regency Gold raised about $10 million Canadian each in the fourth quarter of 2000. These financings were huge compared to their peers, but wouldn't be considered that big today.

Conclusion:

While the current state of the junior market couldn't be described as strong, these data show we haven't reached a nuclear-winter phase, at least not yet. Juniors still can finance, though clearly investors are much less generous now.

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