3 Ways to Invest in Silver

The silver market is slowly making a comeback after it took a dive in the price of silver during last year. The price of silver is up by 11% since the beginning of the year. For investors thinking of entering the silver market, what are the main ways to invest in this precious metal? Let’s review three main alternatives to go long on silver.

1. Silver ETFs

The most straight forward way to invest in silver is with a silver ETF such as Shares Silver Trust (NYSEMKT:SLV). This ETF follows the price of silver and thus doesn’t have any discrepancy between the movement of silver and the ETF’s price. The downside for investing in such an asset is its lack of divided payment as oppose to silver companies. Moreover, holding this silver ETF includes a management fee of 0.5%.

2. Silver producers

Investors, who don’t want to pay a management fee and benefit from the potential growth of a company, could consider a silver producer such as Pan American Silver (NASDAQ:PAAS). The company plans to expand its silver operations by over 5%, year over year. This means, the growth in production will be another added benefit as silver prices recover. Besides the potential growth in operations, Pan American Silver also offers a quarterly dividend, which allows its investors to take some profits off the table during the year. Pan American Silver’s dividend yield is 3.2%.

But this company also entails several risks that silver ETFs don’t have including: Rising production costs, uncertainty in reaching its annual production goals, potential higher than anticipated capital expenditure, and delays in constructions of new mines. Further, the company’s silver operations account for roughly 75% of its total sales. The rest is gold and other metals. Investors, who want exposure only to silver, should take into account this factor.


3. Silver streaming companies

The third option for investing in silver is a silver steaming company such as Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW). This company’s business is to invest in precious metals producers and get in return a stream of silver and gold at a very low fixed price. This type of business reduces the risk associated with production listed above. Therefore, Silver Wheaton’s operations have less risk than a silver producer has.


Due to the low price it pays for silver, the company’s profit margins are high: In the first quarter, its gross profitability was 55%. In comparison, Pan American Silver’s profitability was only 15%.Despite this higher profit margin, Silver Wheaton’s dividend yield is only 1.03% – lower than Pan American Silver’s yield.

Last year, the company’s attributed production grew to 35.8 million of silver equivalent ounces, which is nearly 22% higher than in 2012. This year, however, Silver Wheaton’s operations are expected to reach 36 million ounces — close to last year’s attributed production. This means, unlike Pan American Silver, Silver Wheaton doesn’t plan to expand its operations this year.

Finally, Silver Wheaton, much like Pan American Silver, also has gold in its mix so that silver accounts for nearly 74% of its total sales. This is among the reasons for the lower correlations these companies have with silver prices.

Foolish takeaway

Investors who believe the recovery of silver will continue in the near term could consider either of the above alternatives and consider the advantages and disadvantages of each investment path. For those who wish to take some profits off the table along the way and also be less exposed to productions risk could consider Silver Wheaton.

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Disclaimer: The author holds no positions in stocks mentioned and does not plan to initiate positions within 120 hours of the posting of this article. This article is to be used for educational, research and informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice. There are no guarantees, expressed or implied, of future positive returns in regards to the subject matter contained herein. Understand the risks inherent in investing before making the decision to invest or consult an investment professional for more information. Reasonable due diligence has been performed in regards to the information in this article. However, the author expressly disclaims any liability for accidental omissions of information or errors in fact.