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Miners in cyclical 'sweetspot'

Analysts from Jefferies have come back from the New Year break with much optimism, explaining that mining shares should outperform the general market in 2018.
Miners in cyclical 'sweetspot' Miners in cyclical 'sweetspot' Miners in cyclical 'sweetspot' Miners in cyclical 'sweetspot' Miners in cyclical 'sweetspot'

Right out of the middle: Jefferies believes the mining sector is currently in the cyclical sweetspot

Staff reporter

In a note to clients, the firm said ongoing supply constraints at existing mines, a lack of production growth from new projects and strong global demand should this year lead stocks higher.

"Valuations are low, balance sheets are strong, and fundamentals are positive," the analysts, led by Christopher LaFemina, said. The industry is in the "sweet spot" of the cycle, they added.

The supply constraints many believe will provide commodity price and share price upside are "intensifying".

"We expect supply growth of most commodities to slow in 2018 as existing mines deplete and production from new projects ramps up slowly," the analysts said, adding that the risk to its growth forecasts was "strongly" to the downside.

"We do not expect a meaningful supply response to high commodity prices for at least three years as project pipelines have been depleted and more exploration work is necessary before a wave of new projects will be approved," they said.

And, despite policymakers being focused on deleveraging and pollution, as opposed to GDP growth targets, Chinese demand growth was still "OK". 

"Our analysis indicates that Chinese demand will increase slowly in 2018," the analysts said.

There are also indications that growth, ex-China, will move up a gear, with recent purchasing  managers' index data and US tax cuts implying an acceleration of demand for metals in 2018.

Against such a backdrop, Jefferies believes investors should buy shares of its preferred miners now before valuations catch up with these fundamentals.

This list includes First Quantum Minerals (CN:FM) - its top pick - Glencore (LN:GLEN), Kaz Minerals (LN:KAZ), Freeport McMoRan (US:FCX), Antofagasta (LN:ANTO) and Anglo American (LN:AAL).

It currently has a target price (TP) of C$27 (US$21.6) on FQM, up from its last price of C$18.85, a TP of £4.80 (US$6.50) on Glencore, up from its previous close of £3.91, a target of £12 on KAZ (from £8.84), US$24 on Freeport (up from US$19.74), £12.50 on Antofagasta (up from £9.86) and £20 on Anglo (up from £16.05).