Commodity metals are having a tough time lately. Investor enthusiasm for metals has fallen, and its only necessary look at the price of gold to see why. Equities are where investors want to be and you cannot blame them when every day’s trading puts up a new top.
But the rotation out of commodities may itself be starting to reverse, at least for some base metals. And demand is booming one of the metals.
The commodity price for aluminum may have gotten ahead of fundamentals in the short term, but some analysts think the second half of the year will bring sustained higher prices. Others see sustained overproduction and lower prices.
Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) has seen its share price increase more than 30% so far in 2014, after rising 18% in 2013, with most of the gains coming since last October. Alcoa shares closed at $13.79 on Tuesday, and the consensus price target for the stock is around $12.30. So we could conclude that Alcoa, like aluminum in general, has outrun its fundamentals. For the current quarter, Alcoa is expected to post earnings per share of $0.12 on revenues of $5.64 billion.
Rio Tinto PLC (NYSE: RIO) is generally thought of as a producer of iron ore, but it is also the world’s second largest producer of aluminum. Shares are up just 1.8% year-to-date and 22% over the past 12 months. Based on Tuesday’s closing price of $56.05 and a consensus price target of around $62.20, the potential upside on the stock is about 11%. Rio Tinto could also feel pressure from a drop in iron ore sales to China.
The price of copper made something of a comeback in April following a four-year low posted near $2.90 a pound in March. Prices have recovered to around $3.13, nearly to their level before the March crash. When Indonesia banned copper exports early this year, the big mining companies rebelled and the situation is not yet sorted out.
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) has sought relief from low copper prices by acquiring oil exploration and production companies. That move paid off in the first quarter when the company was able to produce more oil than expected at a lower-than-expected cost per barrel. Gold prices didn’t help Freeport in the first quarter either. The company’s stock closed at $35.56 Tuesday, compared with the consensus price target of around $39.40. The implied gain at that closing price is around 10.7%.
Southern Copper Co. (NYSE: SCCO) had a poor first quarter and there are some who believe that the revenue drop-off will continue through the rest of this year. The company simply has nothing to offset the sharp drop in copper prices. Shares closed at $29.44, against a consensus price target of around $34, for an implied potential gain of 11.7%.