What happened

Shares of silver and gold miner Endeavour Silver (NYSE:EXK) rose sharply in the first hour or so of trading on Thursday, trading as much as 15.5% higher. As of 11:21 a.m. EST, the stock was holding on to most of those gains, up by about 15%. The key driver of that share price rise was the company's third-quarter earnings release.

So what

Endeavour Silver's top line was higher by a whopping 29% year over year in the third quarter. The miner's production was up 2% on a silver equivalent ounce basis, but it actually sold 11% less silver and 4% less gold in the quarter. The big revenue boost was the result of a material improvement in Endeavour's realized selling prices: Silver prices were up 43% year over year while gold was up 31%. Costs, meanwhile, were lower due to improved performance at key mining operations.  

A miner holding up a silver nugget.

Image source: Getty Images.

On the bottom line, Endeavour's results improved from a loss of $0.05 per share in Q3 2019 to breakeven in the just-reported quarter. While it would have been nicer to see robust earnings numbers at a time when silver and gold prices are high, breaking even is still much better than bleeding red ink. That said, it's also worth noting that Thursday morning's stock price gain was helped along by a jump in silver and gold prices in early trading. Still, all in, it was a good quarter for Endeavour and the market bid up the stock as you would expect.  

Now what

Precious metals prices have a history of being volatile, often dramatically so. The year-over-year changes in gold and silver prices that drove Endeavour's top line higher are perfect examples of that. Before jumping into the stock, therefore, it's important to remember that their prices can fall just as readily as they rise. It's probably best for most investors to view miners as a way to add precious metals exposure to their portfolios for diversification purposes, not as stocks to trade in an attempt to time the ups and downs of silver or gold. In other words, you shouldn't read too much into Endeavour Silver's Thursday price gain.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.