Why Won’t Sprott Buy More Silver For PSLV and crash COMEX?

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Published : July 20th, 2011
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Category : Market Analysis





Update: I've been informed that Sprott can't do a shelf offering until his fund is one year old, which it won't be for many months yet and that Sprott said at the Vancouver Resource Conference that he would not do anything to hurt the resulting premium in the fund. That answers the question in my post title. I've left the rest of the post below as is. I'd still suggest that he consider structuring additional offerings in a way that would put some pressure on the market. Buying silver via forwards may not be best way to do it.

Kid Dynamite has come out all guns blazing in his latest post. His post goes into detail into a point I raised in my last post - why isn't Sprott doing secondary share issues for his silver fund?

He has a point. By not issuing more shares in the face of demand, all that happens is investors are paying $120 for $100 worth of silver. This means $20 worth of silver is NOT being bought and taken off the market, which takes pressure off the bullion banks.

The response that if he did a secondary that it would reduce the premium, hurting the existing investors, is valid. But the point is he shouldn't have allowed that situation to develop in the first place. [see update below] Now he is caught. By not wanting to hurt existing investors he is diverting silver demand AWAY from taking physical off the market INTO just bidding up the premium.

In any case, I would counter the "reduce premium" argument by suggesting that Sprott could do the secondary in a way as to probably cause no loss to existing holders. Consider that PSLV has 22.3 million ounces. A 20% premium suggests there is at least demand for 4.46 million ounces (20% of 22.3moz). I think most would agree, however, that he could do a secondary for double that given the profile and trustworthyness of his fund.

COMEX has registered stocks of 26.8moz. Consider if Sprott slowly bought 8.92moz of silver futures and then stood for delivery. That is ONE THIRD of the entire COMEX stock. What do you think that would do to the price of silver when Sprott and others assert that the physical market is currently so tight? Those that believe this would have to expect that you'd get a price increase that would easily cover any decrease in PSLV's premium.

And the argument that Sprott shouldn't do it because COMEX would cash settle does not hold water. Even if the cash settlement price is below the current "real" physical price, it would still probably be above his purchase price (as silver is in a bull market). In any case, if his actions were able to cause such a significant and high profile failure to deliver, then the resulting price move really would be "explosive", producing a profit on his existing silver holdings that would cover any loss (if any) on the cash settlement of his futures contracts, and benefitting existing PSLV holders to boot.

It is a win win: if COMEX delivers they take a huge hit to their stocks, if they don't, the price gets a huge hit to the upside. Personally I don't think it would play out this way. Bullion banks would source silver to deliver into the Sprott contract and thus maintain COMEX stocks. But that is just a theory. Until someone with the capability to make such a move does it, it is all talk, both on my side and theirs

Bron Suchecki




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M. - 7/21/2011 at 1:34 AM GMT
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