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Metal News, Nonferrous Metal

February 20, 2011

Precious Metal Funds: Sentry Precious Metals Growth

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Investors of precious metal funds in Canada will immediately recognize the proverbial 800 pound giant in the room, when reading about the Sentry Precious Metals Growth Fund. Last year, the fund managed a 79 percent return, and in the process picked up some hardware at the annual Lipper Fund Awards. Sentry Precious Metals Growth, which posted an average annual return of 22 percent over three years, earned the award in the precious metals category, and has the best return of all categories for that period, also winning awards for both the one and five year periods.

In an interview with Gold Investing News, Mina Rizk, Product Manager and Analyst for Sentry Investments was pleased with the awards and the impact that it has represented for marketing opportunities, “The Fund continues to attract assets based on its strong and consistent track record. Including the 2011 awards, the Fund has now captured seven Lipper Awards over the past five years.”

Sentry has been establishing quite a strong name for itself in the Canadian investment management universe, with the entire firm’s suite of assets under management totaling 80 percent growth on the year. The growth total is a product of the weighted average performance across all mandates in addition to the net sales of the funds. The second highest total for firms with more than a billion dollars of assets was Dynamic Funds, which posted a 33 percent gain.

Portfolio management commentary

Portfolio Manager, Kevin MacLean has indicated that he has been able to reduce risk or volatility in his fund because it is focused on smaller companies, which can add to existing reserves and resources, as opposed to large gold producers, whose share price returns are more dependent upon an appreciating gold price that is often relatively volatile.

“When the gold price goes down, the senior shares go down and stay down until the gold price goes up again,” MacLean said. “The shares of smaller companies can go down initially, but they will come back fast because they are creating wealth by finding it in the ground.” In a sense, these companies are growing the underlying asset base ‘organically’.

While the price of gold had been falling last month after last year’s strong surge, he suggested “The U.S. recovery is almost driven by printing money,” he said. “The United States has decided to devalue their currency rather than tighten their belts, so that is bullish for gold.” This is also underscored by escalated geopolitical concerns in the Mideast as well as supporting data from slightly higher U.S. inflation for the month of January.

Critical investment features

The fund comes at a slightly higher price point, featuring a Management Expense Ratio (MER) of 2.6 percent of net assets. The MER is a measure of what it costs an investment company to operate the fund and consists of a management fee, record-keeping, custodial services, taxes, legal expenses, and accounting and auditing costs divided by the average dollar value of its assets under management. Operating expenses are taken out of a fund’s assets and lower the return to a fund’s investors. As a category benchmark the median MER for the precious metal category is 2.3 percent.

The total assets of the fund are approximately $730 million, which permits the manager to invest in exploration, junior mining and senior production of precious metals. This provides investors with exposure to international enterprises with the broadest range of market capitalization.

The competitive nature and industry compliance requires that the fund disclose financial details quarterly, and the most recent sector allocation indicates about 56 percent is invested in junior mine production, 23 percent in mid tier miners, 10 percent in senior miners and 10 percent in exploration companies.

Metal News, Nonferrous Metal

Metal Recycler Buys Part of Bethlehem Steel Site

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Hamburg, NY (WBEN) — A portion of the long-dormant Bethlehem Steel plant is about to be brought back to life.

The site’s owner, Great Lakes Industrial Development LLC, says it has sold 44 acres of the 16-acre site, including the building complex that used to house Bethlehem’s Galvanized Product Division, to Metalico, Inc. The purchase price was $3.2 million.

Metalico is based in New Jersey. It operates scrap metal recycling plants there, in New York, and in five other states. It already runs a total of five facilities in Erie, Niagara, and Chautauqua counties.

Metalico’s plan is to install a heavy-duty 80104 Metal Shredder in the empty building. That will leave room inside the facility for the future addition of more recycling equipment.

Metalico estimates that installing the shredder will immediately create 15 to 20 permanent jobs.

Great Lakes Industrial Development eventually hopes to attract tenants for the rest of the former Bethlehem Steel site, creating a business park for manufacturing, warehousing and back office space.

Copper, Metal News, Nonferrous Metal

Copper thefts could lead to new rules for scrap-metal buyers

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Tim Reeves steered his red pickup through the narrow streets of a Greenville neighborhood, pointing out homes that had open crawl-space doors, water damage and rectangular holes that used to hold vents.

All are the tell-tale signs of copper theft. Reeves, who owns a dozen rental houses, said he has been targeted five times, costing him about $20,000, with no arrests made.

Law enforcement has traditionally fought copper thefts by going after the thieves, but new efforts would put the focus on the scrap yards that buy the metal to recycle.

Supporters of the tougher approach said it would help reduce copper thefts by giving police new tools to keep tabs on sellers. Recyclers said the vast majority of sellers are honest and that added bureaucracy could be more trouble than it is worth.

Two bills in the Legislature would require recyclers to keep more records and pay by check instead of cash, while forcing anyone wanting to sell copper to get a permit from their local sheriff.

Reeves said he is in favor of a new approach.

“If you make it hard for these guys to sell it, they aren’t going to steal it,” he said.

Legitimate scrap-metal sellers often include contractors, property owners who find metal during house cleanings and people who eke out a living by gathering scrap, recyclers said.

Kamal Desor, owner of Adams Scrap Recycling, said his Greenville business offers a service that pumps money into the economy and keeps potentially hazardous substances out of landfills.

The way Desor sees it, he employs 8,000 people – the number who have sold scrap metal at his business since 2009. For many, it is the last option to put food on the table and keep heaters filled with kerosene, Desor said.

Some sellers are mentally and physically handicapped and any new regulations, no matter how simple, could be too much, he said.

“Then they have to steal,” Desor said. “It could make a good man go bad.”

Recyclers sell scrap metal to companies that can turn the material into new products. Copper is prized for its electrical and thermal conductivity and is used in plumbing, electrical wires and heating and cooling pipes.

Law enforcement has struggled with cooper thefts since the global demand for the metal pumped up its scrap value.

Copper has gone from less than $1 a pound in 2001 to more than $4 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price has fully recovered from a dip it took during the recession.

Laurens County Sheriff Ricky Chastain said that the pace of thefts mirrors copper prices.

“If the prices continue to rise, you’ll continue to see” thefts, he said. “If the prices go down, these types of crimes go down with it.”

A 2008 intelligence assessment by the FBI found that copper theft was threatening critical infrastructure.

An attempted theft at an electrical substation in Hickory Tavern last month caused a fire that led to a widespread power outage, Chastain said. Whoever did it took off before deputies arrived, and no injuries were reported, he said.

Three men in Greenville County were accused last September of stealing copper from two cell phone towers, deputies said.

More commonly, thieves tear apart homes and businesses, especially those that have been vacant for a long time. What can be most frustrating is that the cost of repairing the damage is usually more than the value of the copper.

Rep. Harry Ott Jr., D-St. Matthews, said the common denominator in every copper theft is that the metal eventually has to be turned into money.

“We’re going to try to put as many bumps in the road as we can to try to slow that process down,” Ott said.

He is the primary sponsor of a bill that would require scrap yards to pay by check and sellers to get a permit from the sheriff.

Ott said the intention of his bill is to help track sellers, not put recyclers out of business. No fee would be associated with the permits, Ott said.

Rep. Jimmy Bales, D-Eastover, is sponsoring another bill that would require recyclers to pay by check and send a copy, along with a copy of the seller’s driver’s license, to the state Department of Revenue. The department would maintain a website displaying all the state’s sales of nonferrous metals.

Recyclers said they cooperate with law enforcement and do their best to avoid buying stolen property.

Adams Scrap employees take photos of each vehicle and load that passes through its yard and sometimes take a thumbprint from sellers, Desor said. OmniSource, which has nine South Carolina properties, trains employees to watch for stolen items, said Southeastern vice president Bob Brewer.

Brewer said the best anti-theft efforts come out of recyclers, authorities and lawmakers working together.

“I think there are times when a law could potentially become bureaucratic and the administrative work becomes more effort than the actual resolution to the crime itself,” he said.

Several of the rental homes that Reeves owns are in the Woodside neighborhood where he was looking for signs of copper theft. Reeves said thieves have been known to break into crawl spaces and kick out vents for light.

One vacant home had a wide-open front door.

“I guarantee you that has been stripped,” he said.

Reeves has taken defensive measures at his homes. He has installed poles and other guards around outdoor heat pumps. He has padlocked crawl space doors and put in motion-activated lights and alarms.

Some of his heat-and-air units are bolted down with rivets rather than screws, he said.“You just try to do whatever you can do,” Reeves said.

Metal News

Metal dealer alerts police

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A man suspected of stealing dozens of grates and manhole covers in and around Jackson has confessed to a number of the thefts, Jackson police said.

Randy Johnson Jr., 24, of Clinton is cooperating with investigators following his arrest on Monday in connection with a metal theft operation, Detective Jaye Coleman said.

Johnson and Derrick Hodges, 22, of Mendenhall are charged with five counts of grand larceny and face additional charges for thefts in other jurisdictions.

Coleman said Johnson has been forthcoming in providing details in how the theft operation worked.

From January until their arrests, Johnson and Coleman had made between $3,000 and $4,000 by allegedly selling stolen metal to area scrap metal yards, Coleman said.

The men are suspected of stealing 50 drainage grates and manhole covers, including 25 in Jackson.

Several belonged to the city of Jackson and even had the city seal on them, Coleman said. In at least one instance, the suspects allegedly removed a metal cover in the middle of a road, which caused damage to several vehicles.

“Sometimes they would hit two times in a day or every other day,” Coleman said.

The men would use a rod to help lift the heavy covers and then load them into a pickup, he said.

Coleman said it appears the men started off stealing lightweight metals then moved up to heavier objects because they paid more.

Some scrap yards pay around $200 per ton for scrap metal, and the two men allegedly were cashing in between $400 and $500 each trip, he said.

Don LeMar, manager of General Recycle in Flowood, said he got suspicious when the men kept returning with the grates to sell.

“It’s unusual for us to get that much from a regular person. If we get that much, it’s usually from a contractor doing a big demo job,” LeMar said. “The last thing we want to do is purchase stolen property.”

LeMar said his company buys metal “by the semi-load” and said it is nearly impossible to examine every piece of metal that comes in. Once the metal is weighed, it is carried away with a crane.

General Recycle employees will not hesitate to call police if they are suspicious of a customer, he said.

In the recent case, the business contacted Flowood police, who then contacted JPD. The two agencies set up a sting Monday morning and captured Johnson and Hodges as they attempted to sell stolen metal to General Recycle, police said.

In Jackson, Johnson and Hodges allegedly stole property belonging to the city, The Car Wash at 335 Elton Road, JNS Food Mart at 2010 Raymond Road, Nicks Food Mart at 4420 Robinson Road, The Car Wash at 2570 Siwell Road and Cypress Point Apartments, 1805 Hospital Drive. The men also have been connected to thefts in Bolton, Terry and Byram.

Johnson and Hodges were released Wednesday from the Hinds County Detention Center, each on a $25,000 bond.

Metal News, Nonferrous Metals Prices

Authorities: As metal prices rise, so do thefts

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PRINCETON — As the price of metal goes up, so does the number of thefts of items like copper from homes and platinum from vehicles, officials say.

Sgt. D.W. Miller Jr., with the West Virginia State Police Princeton Detachment, said the state police have noticed an increase in metal thefts as the market price of metal continues to rise.

“Basically, any type of metal can be targeted,” Miller said. “Metal prices are going up with platinum and copper being the highest. People will take appliances, junk cars, just about everything. In a week, we have about six to eight metal theft related calls.”

Miller said police have seen entire vehicles towed away from the side of the road for scrap metal.

“A lot of times, if someone breaks down on the side of the road, they come along with a lowjack and tow the entire car off,” Miller said. “They basically take the whole car.  Even the price on junk cars has gone up. If there is a car on the side of the road for more than a day, someone will come and pick it up for scrap.”

Platinum from catalytic convertors is another item Miller said thieves are frequently after.

“A lot of catalytic convertors are reported tampered with,” he said. “We have a big problem with them due to the high price of platinum, and they’re very easy to mess with. They’ll take a battery-powered hand saw, zip them off, and be gone in a matter of seconds. Basically, if they’re going to take metal from a car, it’s going to be the catalytic convertors, if they don’t end up taking the entire car.”

Miller said the amount of metal in catalytic convertors isn’t much, though an ounce of platinum is worth quite a sum.

“Most of the time, they sell the cars to junk dealers, who can haul it off to other states to cash in for more money,” Miller said. “Platinum is selling at around $1,000 an ounce, so it’s quite lucrative. Of course, there isn’t enough platinum in a single catalytic convertor to get much of anything. ”

According to Miller, those caught attempting to steal metals from cars are often given fines or jail time.

“It’s a misdemeanor,” he said. “They can get a fine up to a year in jail.

Gold is another lucrative metal, though Miller said there haven’t been many gold thefts reported lately in the area.

“We haven’t seen a rise in it, but we do know most jewelry thieves go straight to the pawn shop,” Miller said.

Miller said there are some precautions residents and vehicle owners can take to prevent their homes or cars from being targeted.

“For cars, you can’t really tell anything’s been tampered with until you start it up and hear the exhaust has been cut,” he said. “People can look for damage to fencing as an indicator. Even if the car is right out in the open or in someone’s yard, they can just wake up to find the metal is gone. If you have an old house or property with copper in it, check it more closely to make sure it’s secure. Instead of checking it once or twice a week, you might want to check it once or twice a day. There isn’t a whole lot you can do, unfortunately.”

Bluefield Police Chief J.W. “Joe” Wilson said the Bluefield Police Department hasn’t seen an increase in thefts lately, but officers are keeping an eye out as prices on metals climb.

“A year ago, catalytic converter theft was a big thing, but recently, we haven’t had but one attempt reported in the past month,” Wilson said. “Metal prices are up and we do see a lot of people hauling metal. We haven’t seen an increase in thefts yet, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be one.”

Wilson said reports of copper theft continue to remain steady.

“The copper theft is about the same,” he said. “We haven’t had a lot come through or seen a big increase. Still, with prices going up, we could see a bigger jump soon.”

Though there hasn’t been a jump in jewelry thefts in the area, Wilson said there are ways for police to track down gold or jewelry thieves.

“When companies come in to buy gold, they give us a list of who’s selling it to them and how much they’re selling,” Wilson said. “We can keep and eye on things that way.”

Wilson said alert neighbors are the main reason they are able to catch copper thieves.

“In most instances, it takes neighbors to be alert and report it,” Wilson said. “If anyone sees suspicious activity, they need to let us know. We often can’t tell the difference between a thief and a homeowner, so we need help from the community. If you have metals, keep an eye on them. Thieves like to target abandoned houses or ones being refurbished. You can also lock up things of value.”

There are precautions Wilson said owners can take to deter thieves from targeting their vehicle.

“People can try to park it in safer places, somewhere with good lighting or where you can keep a better eye on it,” Wilson said. “Still, catalytic converter theft can happen in your driveway, in a public parking lot, and just about anywhere.”

Most importantly, Wilson said citizens need to report any suspicious person or incidents to their local law enforcement.

“If you suspect your car or residence has been tampered with, give us a call,” Wilson said.

Metal News, Steel Prices

January 12, 2011

LME Official Steel Prices (US$/tonne) for 12 Jan 2011

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Steel Billet (US/ton)
CASH BUYER 567
CASH SELLER & SETTLEMENT 569
3-MONTHS BUYER 590
3-MONTHS SELLER 592
15-MONTHS BUYER 660
15-MONTHS SELLER 670
27-MONTHS BUYER N/A
27-MONTHS SELLER N/A
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Alloy, Aluminum News, Nonferrous Metal, Nonferrous Metals Prices

LME Official Aluminium Prices (US$/tonne) for 12 Jan 2011

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Aluminium (US/ton)
CASH BUYER 2484.00
CASH SELLER & SETTLEMENT 2484.50
3-MONTHS BUYER 2495.50
3-MONTHS SELLER 2496.00
15-MONTHS BUYER 2550.00
15-MONTHS SELLER 2555.00
27-MONTHS BUYER 2583.00
27-MONTHS SELLER 2588.00

Alloy, Aluminum News, Nonferrous Metal, Nonferrous Metals Prices

LME Official Aluminium Alloy Prices (US$/tonne) for 12 Jan 2011

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Aluminium Alloy (US/ton)
CASH BUYER 2290.00
CASH SELLER & SETTLEMENT 2300.00
3-MONTHS BUYER 2250.00
3-MONTHS SELLER 2260.00
15-MONTHS BUYER 2180.00
15-MONTHS SELLER 2190.00
27-MONTHS BUYER 2180.00
27-MONTHS SELLER 2190.00

Copper, Nonferrous Metal, Nonferrous Metals Prices

LME Official Copper Prices (US$/tonne) for 12 Jan 2011

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Copper (US/ton)
CASH BUYER 9620.00
CASH SELLER & SETTLEMENT 9625.00
3-MONTHS BUYER 9617.00
3-MONTHS SELLER 9618.00
15-MONTHS BUYER 9385.00
15-MONTHS SELLER 9395.00
27-MONTHS BUYER 8980.00
27-MONTHS SELLER 8990.00

Lead, Nonferrous Metal, Nonferrous Metals Prices

LME Official Lead Prices (US$/tonne) for 12 Jan 2011

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Lead (US/ton)
CASH BUYER 2657.00
CASH SELLER & SETTLEMENT 2662.00
3-MONTHS BUYER 2638.00
3-MONTHS SELLER 2639.00
15-MONTHS BUYER 2570.00
15-MONTHS SELLER 2575.00
27-MONTHS BUYER 2517.00
27-MONTHS SELLER 2522.00
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