After panningsome gold miners earlier this week, I'm now turning to Silver Standard Resources
After being mothballed for about a decade by a silver slump that also hit old-timer Coeur d'Alene
Pirquitas in Argentina, the first mine slated for production, was an acquisition. The other two, Peru's San Luis and Mexico's Pitarilla, were discovered after silver prices picked up a number of years ago and exploration became more economic than purchases. I'm encouraged by the company's demonstration of flexibility in the face of changing market conditions. When the market is busted, management does nothing. There's a lot to be said for that.
There's not much to note from Monday's quarterly results or conference call. The company is investing to ready Pirquitas for production by Q4 2008. It also has a major drilling program under way at San Luis to further define the resource potential there and is doing similar work at Pitarilla.
You may be wondering where a company with no revenue gets the cash to make these capital investments. Well, it either sells shares to the public or less strategic properties to other miners. Silver Standard has taken both routes over the years, but dilution has been relatively minimal compared to its peers -- share count is up "only" about 50% over the past several years. Also, the company has little incentive to float many more shares going forward, because it isn't looking to acquire more properties at today's elevated prices.
In fact, many non-core projects are sitting idle until the company needs to secure more working capital. These won't likely be monetized until the company knows a bit more about what it's got in the ground. That will take more drilling, but the company has plenty of cash and development work keeping it busy for now.
Although returns won't be as explosive going forward as they have been in the past, I think this company offers an attractive way to gain leverage to the price of silver without the attendant dilution of its more acquisitive peers.