Out of the big ones: PAAS CDE AG HL... Gee there aren't many of them are there? There's a few stocks not US listed: Hochschild and Fresnillo for instance. Most silver comes from base metal or gold mines.
I'm going to have to say I like AG the best, but PAAS is great value here and the 3% div tips the scales. i think PAAS and CDE would leverage the earnings best (if silver exploded upwards) because of their high production levels too. But AG is an up and comer, very competently managed, and likely to remain smartly aquisitive and accretive. HL? They just seem to have sucked for decades. At least CDE built themselves into a decent company with a lot of decent mines. SVM? Who knows, I don't like to deal with anything China. It seems like everything Chinese gets you screwed. I think they are a good company thought btw just don't own it anymore. If PAAS didn't pay 3% I'd be tempted to pick some of them up at multi year lows and a decent dividend. Smart investors own some things where you get paid to wait even in a down market.
If you asked me what is the best silver stock I would say Aurcana at only 70 cents. They have like half a billion shares, but they are taking care of that problem but reverse splitting it 1 for 8 or something like that. That will make it a tight float with a share price about $5-6 and more accessible to investors who don't want a penny stock with 500M shares out. Sandstorm did this with good results. A NY listing is forthcoming. 6M oz silver production at low costs for $350M market cap seems awfully cheap (it is!)
Silvercrest seems good too. I like how they are going to double the mine throughput. It's a great operation and even though it is small it puts out good cash flow. They have a second property La Joya that was nothing a couple years ago and now sports 100-200M ozs depending on whether you high grade it or low grade it. It is almost more of a gold play than silver by 10% or so
Asset quality is very important. Comparing 2013 YTD charts for silver stocks, i.e. since recent carnage started, one may see that MVG outperforms the rest. The reason is that this company owns stake in the deposit that has the best claim to be called “world-class”.
Please, do not interpret this message as a suggestion to buy MVG; it was just a remark about past performance.
I figured out why the new format is such an anathema to me, even now that it works. Spam is just as visible as it ever was, but serious discussion, and solid points are hidden, and only revealed by repeatedly clicking on the right links. The result is the promotion of sound-bite discussion, and the general lack of nearly as much serious discussion.
There is some difference between first- and second-tier silver stocks. The former group (PAAS, CDE and, maybe, HL) owns assets of higher quality that allow them to stay profitable, even on cash flow basis, in difficult times for the sector. Second-tier companies (EXK, GPL and, maybe, AG) own assets of lower quality that can become unprofitable, especially on cash flow basis, in difficult times.
The consideration above has direct implications to investment decisions: which stock to own in terms of risk/reward; it depends a lot on projections about silver price.