by David Fessler, Investment U Senior Analyst
As my colleagues have done earlier this week, I'm now putting myself in the hot seat with regards to my prognostications from a year ago.
Around this time last year, I opined that commodities like gold, silver, fertilizers, coal and oil were in increasingly short supply. Prices for these and other commodities were approaching 10-year highs, and would keep on rising.
How did that statement pan out? Let's take a look.
According to data from Kitco, gold started the year around $1,400 per ounce, and is currently trading at just over $1,600 per ounce.
Silver, on the other hand, started the year at $30.70 per ounce, and now trades a tad lower in the $29.50-per-ounce range. It was what silver did during the year that made all the headlines.
Back in April, it hit a high of $48.70 per ounce. The scale and speed of the decline after the April high suggested institutional dumping of the metal. Prior to the sell-off, silver was widely viewed as another safe haven (like gold) against money printing.
Fertilizer prices, according to data retrieved from ycharts.com, were up 41.54 percent over the last year. Ironically, fertilizer stocks didn't fare so well. Potash Corporation (NYSE: POT) shares are 22.5 percent lower since January. Mosaic Company (NYSE: MOS) didn't fare much better, declining 35 percent since the New Year.
I expect fertilizer demand to continue rising throughout 2012, making these stocks (which trade with P/E ratios of 12 and eight respectively) absolute bargains.
Coal, which started the year at $80 per metric ton, sits around $82.85 per metric ton as I write this, or a gain of about 3.5 percent. Concerns over global recession have weighed on the price of coal.
How did shares of coal companies do over the same time period? In a word, they got hammered. Shares of Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE: ACI) dropped 58 percent for the year. Walter Energy, Inc. (NYSE: WLT), a big metallurgical coal producer, lost 52.5 percent of its share value since January. In the face of lethargic demand here, U.S.