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Supply Squeeze to Prompt PGM Recovery



ETFS Trade Idea –Commodities - Supply Squeeze to Prompt PGM Recovery Over the last year the prices of platinum group metals (PGMs) have seen a momentous decline. Since the 23rd June 2014, when strike action in South Africa concluded

ETFS Trade Idea –Commodities – Supply Squeeze to Prompt PGM Recovery


Platinum and palladium markets capitulate
Over the last year the prices of platinum group metals (PGMs) have seen a momentous decline. Since the 23rd June 2014, when strike action in South Africa concluded, platinum and palladium prices have fallen 34% and 27% respectively (Source: Bloomberg). Being both industrial and precious in nature, they have succumbed to pressure from a softer economic outlook for China, a stronger US Dollar and broadly negative sentiment towards commodities. At current levels, we believe that platinum and palladium prices are at or near a bottom and offer a good opportunity to gain long exposure for those investors with a medium term time horizon. The current low price environment means that a considerable portion of PGM mines are currently operating in unprofitable territory, which should ensure that supply remains tight going forward. On the demand side, the roll out of further European environmental legislation later in the year should see increased usage within autocatalysts.

Positioning diverges

Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) and futures positioning have considerably diverged in the past month (see Figure 1). From June to July, ETF holdings of platinum and palladium have increased by 4.4% and 2.2% respectively while speculative futures positioning has turned increasingly bearish. ETF investors typically exhibit contrarian behaviour, with low prices often stimulating bargain hunting, and this appears to be at work within the PGM space. Indeed, at ETF Securities the last week saw the largest inflows into Exchange Traded Products (ETPs) providing long exposure to platinum and palladium in over seven months. ETP flows appear to corroborate our view that prices are near lows and provide an attractive entry point for those that are bullish on PGMs in the medium term.

ETP Investors Increase Long Exposure to PGMs

(Click to enlarge)

Supply shortages to come

South Africa is responsible for an estimated 73% and 40% of global platinum and palladium production respectively (Source: Johnson Matthey). Last year’s labour dispute was the longest in South African history and resulted in an increase in labour costs for PGM miners that were already suffering from low margins as a result of depressed market prices. Put into perspective, according to the Thomson Reuters GFMS Platinum and Palladium 2015 Survey, the average total cash cost1 for South African platinum producers was US$1,272/oz in 2014 (see Figure 2), which exceeds the current platinum price of around US$955/oz. Although producers are finding some respite in a depreciating South African Rand (ZAR), many are currently operating at a loss. Two of the dominant platinum miners in the region, Anglo American Platinum (Amplat) and Lonmin, have recently announced plans to close mine shafts and initiate large job cuts in response to falling prices, actions which in the future are likely to result in supply shortages and should, once sentiment abates, spark a recovery in PGM prices.

South African Miners Operating at a Loss

(Click to enlarge)

Legislation to generate European demand

Euro VI legislation is targeted at reducing the levels of exhaust emissions from vehicles on the road, specifically it is aimed at reducing the level of nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and an array of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere. It will primarily affect producers of new diesel cars as they will have to adhere to much more stringent emission limits. As such, from September 2015 (when legislation is due to be implemented), European autocatalyst demand for PGMs should grow and in turn support platinum and palladium price levels. This factor will be particularly important for platinum as approximately 42% of autocatalyst demand is sourced from Europe versus around only 24% for palladium (Source: Thomson Reuters GFMS).

Note: Total cash cost does not include: sustaining capex, indirect costs, corporate overheads, extraordinary costs or depreciation and amortization.

Investors wishing to express the investment views outlined above may consider using the following ETF Securities ETPs:

ETFS Platinum (PLTM)
ETFS Physical Platinum (PHPT)
ETFS Physical Palladium (PHPD)
ETFS Daily Leveraged Platinum (LPLA)
ETFS Daily Short Platinum (SPLA)
Swiss Franc Daily Hedged Platinum (CPLT)

The complete ETF Securities product list can be found here.

For more information contact:
ETF Securities Research team
ETF Securities (UK) Limited
T +44 (0) 207 448 4336
E info@etfsecurities.com

Important Information

This communication has been provided by ETF Securities (UK) Limited (”ETFS UK”) which is authorised and regulated by the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (the ”FCA”).

When being made within Switzerland, this communication is for the exclusive use by ”Qualified Investors” (within the meaning of Article 10 of Section 3 of the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act (”CISA”)) and its circulation among the public is prohibited.

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