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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Freeport McMoRan (FCX) - Get Freeport-McMoRan, Inc. Report is the best stock within the broader metals complex to stash your money now, according to Goldman Sachs analyst Sal Tharani.

Even as he worried about

deteriorating fundamentals in the steelmaking industry

, Tharani had words of praise for Freeport and the copper industry. He lifted his rating on the company's stock to buy from neutral based largely on what he sees as the improving supply-demand balance in the copper trade.

Above: Freeport McMoRan's Grasberg copper and gold mine in Indonesia.

In other words, Tharani believes that demand will outstrip supply in 2011 as inventories decline and as copper mines around the world fall off in quality after decades of use. (The words "peak copper" have been whispered by many in the industry for years.)

Furthermore, fears that China would hit the brakes on its economy enough to kill raw materials demand have abated. (The People's Republic accounts for more than 20% of world copper demand, according so some estimates.) "China's chronic shortage of copper makes it one of the best commodities to benefit from a re-acceleration of economic growth there," Tharani wrote. "Rising demand across all emerging economies should more than offset expected slow trends in the US."

Freeport McMoRan shares are, in Tharani's opinion, "the best vehicle to express a bullish view on copper" and to play this broader geologic trend. He also noted that the Phoenix-based company, which happens to own the

largest single gold mine

in the world (Grasberg, which produces the yellow metal as a byproduct to the site's primary metal, copper), has a strong enough balance sheet to support organic growth through

capital spending on new mining projects

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. Freeport could also return profits to shareholders by buying back stock, the analyst said.

Freeport shares were trading Monday morning at $83.67, up 2.4%. Like the market for industrial metals in general, Freeport's stock has had a volatile year, falling as much as 33% after surpassing $87 in April, but then retracing those declines on a strong rally in copper prices since July.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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