Copper prices have been rising, and this bodes well for copper stocks. In fact, copper rose to over $3 per pound in 2017, and at the time of this writing, the price is just a few cents below that level. This means that there is incentive for copper companies to increase production to take advantage of the better prices.

Copper stocks have been beaten down for a long time, but 2017 has given them some relief. That is no reason to pick just any copper stock – it is a reason to perform due diligence and make some choices that will have the most reasonable prospects for success. (For a primer on investing in this metal, check out: Commodities: Copper.)

We have chosen five copper stocks that should do well for the remainder of 2017 based on their resilience through the down times. All figures are current as of Dec. 10, 2017. Here is how the five stocks break down.

Southern Copper Corporation (SCCO​)

The stock of Southern Copper broke sharply higher in November 2016 and formed a new base to consolidate its gains. It broke out of that base in August 2017 and continued moving upward, posting significant gains in the month of October. Its 2.37% dividend could continue to grow if the company keeps prospering from rising copper prices. Furthermore, Southern Copper's quarterly income and total revenues have been climbing. (See also: Copper Enters First Bull Market in 4 Years.)

Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (FCX)

As the world's largest copper miner, Freeport-McMoRan suffered greatly during the copper price decline, but it stands to prosper as copper rises. The company is simply in the best position worldwide to increase production and take advantage of profitable copper prices. Freeport-McMoRan could move into a position where it can resume its dividend. After a significant jump higher in July 2017, the stock has been moving sideways for the past few months. (For more, see:  Freeport Evacuating Indonesian Mine Worker Families After Shootings.)

  • Average Volume: 16,239,756
  • Market Cap: $21.67 billion
  • P/E Ratio (TTM): 20.26
  • EPS (TTM): $0.74
  • Dividend and Yield: $0.00 (0.00%)

BHP Billiton Limited (BHP)

BHP Billiton has a widely diversified mining operation, but it makes the list of copper stocks to watch because it owns BH Copper. The stock began to climb steadily starting in mid-June 2017, posting a 52-week high above $44 in September, and after essentially moving sideways for a few months, it could be preparing to head upward once again. The 4.19% dividend is attractive. (See also: Beyond Gold: Top Picks in Industrial Metals.)

  • Average Volume: 2,376,823
  • Market Cap: $114.345 billion
  • P/E Ratio (TTM): 18.60
  • EPS (TTM): $2.21
  • Dividend and Yield: $1.72 (4.19%)

Anglo American plc (AAUKF/AAL.L)

This company mines for a variety of metals, including copper. The chart on Anglo American shows a steady and orderly rise throughout most of 2016, but the stock was in a base through the first part of 2017. It broke out of that base in June and has been climbing, despite a slight downturn in September. The company has been in business since 1917, so this is a reliable pick for those who want exposure to miners in general and copper in particular. (For more, see: Billionaire's Anglo American Bet Excites Investors.)

  • Average Volume (AAL.L): 5,606,015
  • Market Cap: GBp 19.094 billion
  • P/E Ratio (TTM): 4.65
  • EPS (TTM): GBp 293.3
  • Dividend and Yield: GBp 0.48 (2.59%)

Rio Tinto plc (RIO)

Rio Tinto pays a 4.56% dividend. Production levels have been rising, and the stock has been in an uptrend for more than a year. The company mines other metals besides copper, which helps stabilize the stock price because Rio Tinto is not dependent on the price of any single metal for profitability. (See also: Is Rio Tinto a Great Stock for Value Investors?)

  • Average Volume: 2,307,228
  • Market Cap: $79.586 billion
  • P/E Ratio (TTM): 13.75
  • EPS (TTM): $3.43
  • Dividend and Yield: $2.20 (4.56%)

The Bottom Line

It should be noted that Codelco, a very large Chilean copper miner, did not make this list because it is state owned and therefore is subject to non-market influences that could affect its value. The five copper stocks on our list are all miners, so they are likely to profit directly from rising copper prices and do not depend on secondary income sources such as futures contracts. All five companies are also large enough that they have assets they could sell should a sudden downturn in copper hit.

All five also have extensive copper reserves in place that they can put on the market any time they choose. This will help them take advantage of any sudden spikes in the price of copper. The reserves can also be sold if any of the companies want to raise cash for a new opportunity. Investors in copper must watch two indicators at once: 1) the financial health of the company; and 2) the trend in copper prices worldwide. Going long on any of these stocks will require a regular reading of reports on supply and demand for copper. (See also: What Factors Affect the Price of Copper?)

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