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Though the golden age of film launched a slew of great careers, there can only be one Katharine Hepburn. In a sector full of stars with staying power, Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW ) is one act you'll never grow tired of watching.
This low-cost producer with the unique business model achieved record production of 4 million silver-equivalent ounces (SEOs) during the second quarter, earning a respectable $18.4 million despite a 19% decline in realized silver prices from $17.35 to $14.04 year over year.
The volume of silver delivered to the company lagged attributable production by about 1 million SEOs, so sales revenue for the quarter was based upon flat volume of 2.9 million ounces, while delivery of the remaining produced ounces will boost results going forward. Variable timing of shipments will impact sales from time to time because of temporary snags like the semi-annual freezing of the Yukon River near the Minto Mine in Canada. As I've said before, within a rising long-term price environment for silver, delayed sales can conceal a silver lining.
Although I am vocally bullish on gold, my regular readers know that I have consistently considered silver a superior investment vehicle until long-term historical ratios between the two metals are restored. Now that Coeur d'Alene Mines (NYSE: CDE ) is ramping up production at Palmarejo, and Hecla Mining (NYSE: HL ) finally carries more cash than debt on its balance sheet, downtrodden miners with significant potential for recovery appear plentiful.
From well-established names like Pan American Silver (Nasdaq: PAAS ) , to the sheer growth potential of Silver Standard Resources (Nasdaq: SSRI ) , silver investors have their research cut out for them. Personally, I own them all (did I mention I was bullish on silver?), but I continue to view Silver Wheaton as a shiny standout within a promising sector.
In a nutshell, Silver Wheaton enjoys essentially fixed operating costs of around $4 per ounce, clinching a massive margin advantage over the competition. With additional silver streams coming online, especially Goldcorp's (NYSE: GG ) world-class Penasquito mine later this year, Silver Wheaton anticipates 72% production growth over the next four years to 31 million SEOs. The company also reports "spectacular exploration success" from the Minto mine, and retains $450 million in liquidity to pursue additional silver streams.
What's not to like?
This is not a rhetorical question, fools. I take my objectivity seriously. Using the comments section below, or my CAPS pitch for Silver Wheaton, I invite you to poke holes in my glowing praise for this company. Aside from a manageable bank debt of $150 million, as a prospective investment this stock reminds me of a vintage Hepburn performance: virtually flawless.