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Uranium Part II
October 01, 2004

In response to last week’s column on uranium I received several emails asking which uranium stocks people should invest in. I appreciate the emails but frankly, it’s quite silly to think that I can give you specific investment advice for your portfolio based on an email that says: “Which uranium stocks should I buy?”

Answering that question would be irresponsible of me as I don’t know anything about the requestor’s financial position, age, employment, risk tolerance, etc. And even if I did answer the question with a simple “XYZ Corp.”, it would hardly be of any benefit without an explanation of why I like the company.

I will say that there are very few high-quality uranium companies out there today. Most of the so-called uranium companies are nothing more than unsuccessful gold, or silver, or copper, or nickel, or platinum, or palladium ambulance chasers that have found a new ambulance to chase, and are therefore on their way to a crash-site.

That is not to say that one cannot make a lot of money tagging along for the ride, but you have to know when to let go and jump off; and such advice is not within the scope of this column. As I have said many times in the past, you can read what I think for free in this column; however, if you want to know what I do with my own money, you will have to subscribe to my newsletter. Details can be found at www.paulvaneeden.com.

What I will tell you is that the six-hundred-pound-gorilla in the uranium business is Cameco Corporation* (CCO on the Toronto Stock Exchange and CCJ on the New York Stock Exchange).

Cameco’s shares have risen more than sixty-seven percent since May this year and the stock can hardly be called a bargain. It was a bargain four years ago when I recommended it (a copy of the article is on my website at www.paulvaneeden.com in the Library Section) because it was trading for thirteen times earnings, four times cash flow, fifty-five percent of book value and paying a three percent dividend. Since then the stock has increased by almost six hundred percent, so it’s fair to say that the easy money has been made.

Nonetheless, I do think the uranium price will continue to rise for the foreseeable future, barring any nuclear “accidents”. And that implies that the share price of Cameco should continue to do well. So if you want some exposure to the uranium market without doing any more due diligence than the free advice you can get on the Internet, which, by the way, is usually worth just about what you pay for it, then Cameco might be all you need to know.

In addition to being the world’s second largest uranium mining company it is also one of the few companies involved with the downstream processing of uranium, which means that it will not only benefit from a higher uranium price but also from the potential increase in the beneficiation of uranium before it can be used by utilities to generate electricity.

There is a growing global realization that it will be impossible to meet the requirements of the Kyoto Agreement without resorting to a major shift towards nuclear power generation. Nuclear power is not only a clean source of energy, it is an abundant source of energy. And it might be a more prevalent source of energy than what many people realize.

There are four hundred and forty nuclear power plants currently operating in thirty-one counties. Sixteen percent of global electricity production comes from nuclear power plants and thirty nuclear reactors are currently under construction in eleven countries.

In addition to these commercial reactors, there are two hundred and eighty research nuclear reactors in fifty-six countries with more under construction. And over one hundred and fifty ships are being propelled by more than two hundred nuclear reactors. Indeed, nuclear fuel is more prevalent than what most people realize. And it just shows you that nuclear power generation is not only clean, it is also a lot safer than what certain special interest groups would like the world to believe.

The massive increase in the uranium price that we saw during the Seventies was caused by fear that the market would not be able to supply utilities with sufficient fuel to power their commercial reactors. In response, the utility companies started stockpiling uranium and this only added to the current demand, which drove the spot price of uranium through the roof.

Current annual demand for uranium is approximately one hundred and seventy million pounds while mine production is only about seventy five million pounds. If utilities panic again, and it is quite likely that they will since the cost of uranium fuel is a very small part of the cost of running a nuclear power plant, then we could easily see the current demand for uranium increase dramatically.

Given the tight supplies, a further increase in demand from the utilities would blow the lid off the uranium price and we’ll see a replay of the Seventies, when the uranium price exceeded forty dollars a pound.

But it would be dangerous to assume that the uranium price will continue to rise without interspersed gut-wrenching corrections. Keep that in mind, because the uranium price has increased almost three-fold in less than four years without a correction -- one is overdue.

As with any market, and all speculations, we have to try to keep our wits about us. It’s not always easy: greed and fear are both powerful motivators. But it is fun.

Paul van Eeden

*This is not a recommendation to buy or sell any security. I don’t own Cameco Corporation nor do I intend to buy or sell the stock in the foreseeable future. That does not preclude me from doing so, however, should I change my mind. I am not registered as a financial advisor and this article should not be construed as giving you specific investment advice. It should be specifically understood that it does not give you specific investment advice. Paul van Eeden, Kitco, anyone associated either with Kitco or Paul van Eeden will accept no responsibility or liability, legal or otherwise, from any losses whatsoever that you may suffer if you were to act on the information in this column. This column represents the views of Paul van Eeden only and that is all it is represented to be. Read it at your own peril.


Paul van Eeden works primarily to find investments for his own portfolio and shares his investment ideas with subscribers to his weekly investment publication. For more information please visit his website (www.paulvaneeden.com) or contact his publisher at (800) 528-0559 or (602) 252-4477.

Disclaimer

This letter/article is not intended to meet your specific individual investment needs and it is not tailored to your personal financial situation. Nothing contained herein constitutes, is intended, or deemed to be -- either implied or otherwise -- investment advice. This letter/article reflects the personal views and opinions of Paul van Eeden and that is all it purports to be. While the information herein is believed to be accurate and reliable it is not guaranteed or implied to be so. The information herein may not be complete or correct; it is provided in good faith but without any legal responsibility or obligation to provide future updates. Neither Paul van Eeden, nor anyone else, accepts any responsibility, or assumes any liability, whatsoever, for any direct, indirect or consequential loss arising from the use of the information in this letter/article. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice, may become outdated and will not be updated. Paul van Eeden, entities that he controls, family, friends, employees, associates, and others may have positions in securities mentioned, or discussed, in this letter/article. While every attempt is made to avoid conflicts of interest, such conflicts do arise from time to time. Whenever a conflict of interest arises, every attempt is made to resolve such conflict in the best possible interest of all parties, but you should not assume that your interest would be placed ahead of anyone else’s interest in the event of a conflict of interest. No part of this letter/article may be reproduced, copied, emailed, faxed, or distributed (in any form) without the express written permission of Paul van Eeden. Everything contained herein is subject to international copyright protection.


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