The last year hasn’t been kind to the precious metals sector. As the recovery has taken hold, gold, silver and a host of other metals have lost their luster. Many of the factors that pushed them to lofty heights, higher inflation expectations, a weakling dollar etc., have materialized in the medium term. That prompted investors to flee the sector in spades. The popular SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE:GLD) has seen its assets under management fall significantly since the start of the year.

However, the recent price drops could spell a bargain in at least one of the precious metals. That would be platinum.

Things are looking up for the platinum group of metals as a variety of conditions are pointing to a bullish time ahead. After the price drop, now could be the best time to snag up the metal and its producers.

A Huge Supply Deficit

Despite the recent price drop, there’s plenty to be bullish about when it comes to rising platinum prices. Aside from its precious metal moniker, the platinum group metals (PGM) is more about industrial production than just being a store of value. Finding their way into everything from catalytic converters and coal emissions equipment to LCD monitors and hard disk drives, platinum demand is surging. According to precious metals refiner Johnson Matthey’s (OTCBB: JMPLY) latest PGM review, gross demand for platinum could hit a record 8.42 million ounces this year. That’s up 4.8% versus last year’s demand. Investment demand alone is set to rise 68% to a record 750,000 ounces. 

Meanwhile, things aren’t looking too good from a supply stand point.

The bulk of the world’s platinum- and its sister metal palladium- is mined in South Africa. Unfortunately, the nation is still undergoing various labor strikes at its PGM mines. Those strikes have been actually quite bloody, with riots and deaths being reported. With South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers preparing for a possible strikes against top producers- like Anglo American Platinum (OTCBB: AGPPY) and Impala Platinum (OTCBB:IMPUY) –analysts estimate that at least half of global output of platinum and palladium could be at risk. 

These factors prompted Johnson Matthey to estimate that platinum will see a supply deficit of around 605,000 ounces. That’s the third year of supply deficits and the largest since 1999. Meanwhile, the firm also predicts another year of deficits for the palladium market. Overall, these supply constraints in the face of rising demand should push prices up for platinum and palladium to $1580 and 815 an ounce, respectively.

Making A Platinum Play

Given that this is the third year of supply/demand issues for the metal, higher PGM prices could be coming to the market. More importantly, platinum’s 24% drop since the beginning of the year offers a great entry point to play that rise. Investors may want to bet on the sector.

The easiest way to do so is though the physically backed ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (NASDAQ:PPLT). The exchange traded fund holds platinum bullion in a vault and allows investors to directly track the price of the white metal. PPLT charges just 0.60% in expenses and sit closer to its 52-week low than high. Likewise, fund sponsor ETF Securities also has a physical fund that tracks palladium- the ETFS Physical Palladium Shares (NASDAQ:PALL). Investors looking to use futures to get their platinum metals fix can use the iPath DJ-UBS Platinum ETN (NYSE:PGM). 

Another interesting choice could be the Sprott Physical Platinum and Palladium Trust (NASDAQ:SPPP). As a closed-end fund (CEF), SPPP can trade at either premiums or a discount to its net asset value. Currently, the fund is at a 1.55% discount to underlying holdings of physical bullion. That means investors are able to buy platinum at even cheaper prices than spot. 

Finally, as with gold and silver, investors can gain additional leverage by betting on the miners of platinum. For a broad bet, the First Trust ISE Global Platinum Index (NASDAQ:PLTM) can be used. However, North American Palladium (NYSE:PAL) and Stillwater Mining (NYSE:SWC) have seen their share prices dwindle as the precious metals fallout has taken place. Yet, the pair offer a chance to participate in the growth of the domestic mining sector- far away from the ills facing South African miners.

The Bottom Line

The recent precious metals rout has unearthed plenty of bargains. One of the biggest could be in platinum. Analysts predict another year of supply constraints in the face of rising demand. For investors, the time to pounce on platinum could be now. The previous picks make ideal choices to play the metals rise.

Disclosure - At the time of writing, the author did not own shares of any company mentioned in this article.

Related Articles
  1. Insurance

    How To Choose Between Bronze, Silver, Gold And Platinum Health Insurance Plans

    Here, we explain the different coverage levels within the new Health Insurance Marketplace and help you choose among the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum health insurance plans.
  2. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 3 Japanese Bond ETFs

    Learn about the top three exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in sovereign and corporate bonds issued by developed countries, including Japan.
  3. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    What Exactly Are Arbitrage Mutual Funds?

    Learn about arbitrage funds and how this type of investment generates profits by taking advantage of price differentials between the cash and futures markets.
  4. Savings

    Become Your Own Financial Advisor

    If you have some financial know-how, you don’t have to hire someone to advise you on investments. This tutorial will help you set goals – and get started.
  5. Investing News

    Ferrari’s IPO: Ready to Roll or Poor Timing?

    Will Ferrari's shares move fast off the line only to sputter later?
  6. Investing Basics

    6 Reasons Hedge Funds Underperform

    Understand the hedge fund industry and why it has grown exponentially since 1995. Learn about the top six reasons why the industry underperforms.
  7. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top Three Transportation ETFs

    These three transportation funds attract the majority of sector volume.
  8. Stock Analysis

    5 Cheap Dividend Stocks for a Bear Market

    Here are five stocks that pay safe dividends and should be at least somewhat resilient to a bear market.
  9. Investing Basics

    Tops Tips for Trading ETFs

    A look at two different trading strategies for ETFs - one for investors and the other for active traders.
  10. Investing

    How to Win More by Losing Less in Today’s Markets

    The further you fall, the harder it is to climb back up. It’s a universal truth that is painfully apparent in the investing world.
  1. Can mutual funds invest in IPOs?

    Mutual funds can invest in initial public offerings (IPOS). However, most mutual funds have bylaws that prevent them from ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do dividends affect retained earnings?

    When a company issues a cash dividend to its shareholders, the retained earnings listed on the balance sheet are reduced ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital?

    The difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital is investors have already paid in full for paid-up ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Does index trading increase market vulnerability?

    The rise of index trading may increase the overall vulnerability of the stock market due to increased correlations between ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What does a high turnover ratio signify for an investment fund?

    If an investment fund has a high turnover ratio, it indicates it replaces most or all of its holdings over a one-year period. ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!