NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- These best-performing metals & mining stocks surged in the range of 61% to 190% year-to-date, while the S&P 500 Index and the SPDR S&P Metals and Mining ETF ( XME) gained around 10.7% and 26.5%, respectively.

Precious metals stocks dominate the list, given the current upsurge in these metals prices. During 2010, gold, silver, platinum and palladium for spot delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained around 26%, 72%, 16% and 84%, respectively. In comparison, copper, aluminum and nickel for spot delivery on the London Metal Exchange were up 24%, 5% and 32%, respectively. Meanwhile, lead remained relatively flat year-to-date, while zinc declined 11% on the LME.

The continued uptrend in metals prices could support a rally in metals & mining stocks in 2011. Some of these 10 stocks may continue to outperform their peers and broader markets.

Analysts favor some of these stocks as indicated by the percentage of buy ratings and the upside implied from the consensus estimates of target price.

The stocks are ordered by 2010 return, from great to greatest.

10. Teck Resources ( TCK) , a stock cherished by analysts and with a high-beta value, is a natural resources company engaged in mining, smelting and refining.

Teck Resources aims to increase copper production by 40% over the period 2009-2013 and triple output over the next decade. While long-term projects could be expensive and complicated, CEO Don Lindsay indicates the company could self-fund the projects and meet other cash needs by even discounting the current commodity prices, according to a JPMorgan report. Additionally, Teck will benefit in the long term, given the exposure to high-growth emerging markets through copper, coal and zinc exports.

For the current quarter, the company is anticipated to reports earnings of $1.22 per share, in comparison with the 70 cents reported in the year-ago period. Teck is set to report 2010 earnings of $3.55 per share and $5.30 per share for 2011, in comparison to earnings of $3.27 in 2009, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg. Of the 18 analysts covering the stock, 13 recommend buying, four suggest holding and one advises selling.

Ahead of its peers, the stock surged 20% during the past one month on increasing copper and metallurgical coal prices. Year-to-date, the stock jumped 61%, in comparison to Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold's ( FCX) and Southern Copper's ( SCCO) gains of 40% and 42%, respectively. During the same period, mining giants Rio Tinto ( RIO), BHP Billiton ( BHP) and Vale ( VALE) gained 28%, 16% and 18%, respectively.

9. Cliffs Natural Resources ( CLF) , a stock selling at deep discounts and listed among the top 10 mining stocks with upside and with a high-beta value, is the largest producer of iron ore pellets in North America.

For the current quarter, Cliffs is anticipated to report earnings of $2.25 per share, in comparison with the 82 cents per share reported in the year-earlier period. For the full-year, Cliffs' earnings are estimated at $6.92 per share for 2010 and $9.24 per share for 2011, a remarkable growth from $1.63 per share reported for 2009. Of the 12 analysts covering the stock, nine recommend buying and three suggest holding.

Despite a 68% gain from its recent lows on July 6, the stock is trading at an attractive forward PE multiple of 10.9. Year-to-date, the stock gained around 62%, ahead of steel producers such as Mechel's ( MTL) 49%, Worthington's ( SCHN) 35%, Schnitzer Steel's ( SCHN) 30%, and Ternium's ( TX) 10% gains.

Leading integrated steel producer U.S. Steel ( X) gained 1.1% year-to-date, while non-integrated steel maker A.K. Steel ( AKS) plunged 33%. Among others, ArcelorMittal ( MT), Nucor ( NUE), Steel Dynamics ( STLD) and Posco ( PKX) declined around 19%, 7%, 4% and 22%, respectively.

8. Pan American Silver ( PAAS) is a silver mining company with operations in Mexico, Peru, Argentina and Bolivia. The company owns the Navidad project in Chubut, Argentina, and operates the La Preciosa project in Durango, Mexico.

After preliminary assessment, the company recently announced positive results from its Navidad project, which is slated to become the world's largest primary silver mine. Mineral resources for the eight deposits that comprise the Navidad project contain 632 million ounces of silver, and a deposit has 3 billion pounds of lead. Executive Vice President of Geology and Exploration Michael Steinmann said, "I am confident that we will discover additional mineralization during the coming years in this new and prolific silver district."

The company is set report earnings of $1.01 per share for 2010 and $2.20 per share for 2011, in comparison to earnings of 71 cents per share in 2009, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg. Of the 14 analysts covering the stock, nine recommend buying, and three holding, while two selling.

7. Alliance Holdings ( AHGP), a mining stock with top dividend yield, is a limited partnership formed to own Alliance Resource Management GP, LLC., the managing general partner of Alliance Resource Partners ( ARLP).

The company had a return-on-equity of 45% over the past 12 months, ranked among the top ROEs of coal producers, after Alliance Resource Partners' 63% and Cloud Peak Energy's ( CLD) 62%. Among others, James River Coal ( JRCC), Consol Energy ( CNX) and Walter Energy ( WLT) have ROEs of around 43%, 33% and 31%, respectively.

In addition to providing attractive stock returns, AHGP offers an attractive dividend yield of 4.2%. Late October, the company increased quarterly distribution to 50 cents, up 13.6% from a year earlier. The quarterly dividend payment gradually increased to the current levels from 21.5 cents paid in early 2006.

For the current quarter, AHGP is expected to report earnings of 67 cents per share, in comparison with the 43 cents per share in the year-ago period. According to analysts polled by Bloomberg, the company is set to report earnings of $2.85 per share for 2010 and $3.21 per share for 2011, compared to $1.91 a share during 2009. Of the five analysts covering the stock, two recommend buying, while three advise selling.

6. Hecla Mining ( HL), established in 1891, is the largest and lowest cash-cost silver producer in the U.S. The company has two operating mines and exploration properties in four world-class silver mining districts in the U.S. and Mexico.

Hecla has an equity beta of 1.30, the highest among major silver producers, implying that Hecla is more volatile and will likely outperform its peers and broader markets in the current silver rally. Hecla, with a market cap of $2.75 billion, has a higher beta than stocks with lesser market capitalization. Coeur d'Alene Mines ( CDE), Silver Standard Resources ( SSRI) and Mag Silver ( MVG), with market cap in the range of $600 million-$2.4 billion, have lower betas of 1.25, 1.02 and 0.85, respectively.

Analysts polled by Bloomberg anticipate the company will report earnings of 28 cents per share for 2010 and 44 cents per share for 2011, in comparison to earnings of 23 cents per share in 2009. Of the 11 analysts covering the stock, three recommend buying, seven advise holding and one selling.

5. International Coal ( ICO) is a leading coal producer in Northern and Central Appalachia and the Illinois Basin.

Year-to-date, the stock gained around 84%, ahead of Peabody Energy's ( BTU) 34%, Alpha Natural Resources' ( ANR) 19%, Arch Coal's ( ACI) 44%, Massey Energy's ( MEE) 19% and Natural Resource Partners' ( NRP) 26% gains.

International Coal is expected to report earnings of 7 cents in the fourth quarter, compared to a loss of 7 cents a year earlier. Analysts foresee the company reporting earnings of 27 cents per share for 2010 and 60 cents per share for 2011, in comparison to earnings of 14 cents registered during 2009. Of the eight analysts covering the stock, six recommend buying and two holding.

4. Stillwater Mining ( SWC) is the only producer of palladium and platinum in the U.S. and the largest primary producer of platinum group metals (PGMs) outside of South Africa and Russia.

The stock will likely see an upside on the growing deficit for PGMs. The company has been investing in new projects such as Graham Creek at its East Boulder mine and Blitz at its Stillwater mine, to leverage the anticipated uptrend in palladium and platinum prices.

For the 2010 third quarter, the company's gold production was up 15%, while total cash cost, net of by-product sales, declined by $35 per ounce. In the current quarter, gold production and sales are anticipated to rise, with further reductions in cash cost. For the full year, the company anticipates production between 330,000 and 360,000 ounces of gold, growing to over 400,000 ounces in 2012.

Year-to-date, the stock surged around 119% and analysts anticipate a further upside of 44% with a target price of $30.0. In comparison, North American Palladium ( PAL) and Platinum Group Metals ( PLG) have an upside potential of 10% and 37%, respectively.

Analysts foresee the company reporting earnings of 61 cents per share for 2010 and $1.78 per share for 2011, a turnaround from a loss of 10 cents registered during 2009. Of the three analysts covering the stock, two recommend buying and one holding.

3. Silver Wheaton ( SLW), established in 2004, quickly positioned itself as the world's largest metals streaming company.

The company has a portfolio of world-class assets, including silver streams on the Penasquito mine in Mexico and Barrick Gold's Pascua-Lama project in Chile and Argentina. The company expanded its mining capacity and produced around 16.2mn ounces of silver during 2009. For 2010, the company expects to produce 22.0 million ounces, and increase it to 40 million ounces by 2013.

The company presently has 15 silver purchase agreements and two precious metals agreements, in exchange for an upfront payment, to purchase all or a portion of silver production, at a low fixed cost, from high-quality mines located in politically stable countries. These unique agreements allow Silver Wheaton to keep silver production costs below the industry average.

Year-to-date, the stock gained around 152%, ahead of Pan American Silver's 64% and Compania de Minas Buenaventura's ( BVN) 45% gains.

For the current quarter, Silver Wheaton expects to report earnings of 28 cents, up from 15 cents recorded a year earlier. For the full-year, the company is set to report earnings of 77 cents per share for 2010 and $1.34 per share for 2011, in comparison to earnings of 38 cents per share in 2009, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg. Of the 16 analysts covering the stock, 10 recommend buying and six holding.

2. New Gold ( NGD) is an intermediate gold mining company with the Mesquite mine in the U.S., the Cerro San Pedro mine in Mexico and Peak Gold mines in Australia.

For 2010 third quarter, the company's gold production was up 15%, while total cash cost, or net of by-product sales, declined by $35 per ounce. During the current quarter, gold production and sales are anticipated to be high, with further reductions in cash cost. For the full year, the company anticipates to produce between 330,000 and 360,000 ounces of gold, growing to over 400,000 ounces in 2012.

Despite its $3.7 billion market capitalization, New Gold has a low beta value 0.72. Major gold producers with market cap of more than $10 billion such as Barrick Gold ( ABX), Goldcorp ( GG), Newmont Mining ( NEM), Kinross Gold ( KGC), Agnico-Eagle Mines ( AEM) and Yamana Gold ( NEM) have betas in the range of 0.65-0.94.

The company is set to report earnings of 26 cents per share for 2010 and 36 cents per share for 2011, a significant turnaround from a loss of 60 cents per share in 2009, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg. Of the 14 analysts covering the stock, seven recommend buying and seven suggest holding.

1. U.S. Gold ( UXG) is engaged in the exploration of gold, silver and other minerals. The company holds interests in exploration properties in the U.S. and Sinaloa, Mexico.

Last week, U.S. Gold announced the discovery of three gold-bearing veins near the company's El Gallo project in Sinaloa, Mexico. "The discovery of these veins illustrates the exploration potential of US Gold's large land package around El Gallo. Seven drills are currently operating at the project and we expect this pace to continue throughout 2011," said Rob McEwen, chairman and CEO. In addition, the company announced new mineralized areas at its Limo and Gold Bar projects in Nevada.

Year-to-date, the stock jumped 194%, providing attractive returns to investors. Over the past month alone, the stock gained 34.2%, ahead of Yamana Gold's ( AUY) 10.1%, Eldorado Gold's ( EGO) 8.9%, Harmony Gold Mining's ( HMY) 7.1%, IAMGOLD's ( IAG) 6.6% and Royal Gold's ( RGLD) 6.6%.

The two analysts covering the stock recommend buying.

>To see these stocks in action, visit the 10 Best-Performing Mining Stocks in 2010 portfolio on Stockpickr.
This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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