Let's face it, 2013 was rough on silver.
The precious metal started out the year at $31, and ended at $19.50, continuing an overall slump dating back roughly to mid-2011.
That, however, obscures a massive run, like gold, that silver embarked on in 2001 when it was near $4, eventually topping out around $49 in April 2011. At its peak it generated a return of 1,091%.
Heading into 2014, I've pinpointed a number of key drivers - some often missed - that say silver may be poised for another spectacular run...
Two Bullish Signs - That Others Miss
The gold market is much bigger than the silver market.
For that reason, silver traders closely watch gold price action. Since the 2001 bull market began, 92% of silver's price behavior has correlated to gold's.
That's why gold's recent strong price action since the start of 2014 is a positive sign that silver's poised to rise too.
A few weeks back, I told you about 1,600 Reasons To Buy Gold Now. In effect, all the reasons I presented on gold apply to silver as well.
But in addition, there are a few more drivers specific to silver that all point to higher prices.
Like gold, silver's often hated. That in itself is often a great contrarian indicator.
The way to gauge this is to observe what the speculative traders are doing. Particularly when their bets are at or near a sentiment extreme, doing the opposite can be lucrative indeed. That's been the case a number of times since 2001.
Back in early December, silver-futures short positions of all speculators (in the Commitment of Traders COT reports from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission) hit a bull-to-date high at 54,000 contracts.
This kind of extreme often signals a strong performance in the silver price over the next 1 to 3 months.
Since bottoming at $19 in early December, the silver price has already gained 7%. And I think that's just the opening act.
The most recent COT reports show speculators have already pared back their short bets considerably, so this reversing trend is playing out in textbook fashion. The extreme pessimism is already subsiding.
We saw this happen in each of the past three years, and conditions look ripe for a repeat.
Another useful way to gauge whether silver is cheap or expensive on a relative basis is to use the Gold/Silver ratio.
By dividing the gold price by the silver price, you can tell how many silver ounces one gold ounce will buy.
In the past decade, the range for this ratio has mainly been between 45 and 60.
Currently, one gold ounce is good for 63 silver ounces. That's high by historical standards, and it's high by bull-to-date standards.
Simple reversion to the mean tells us to expect silver to climb relative to gold. If silver were to just return to the middle of that range, then a Gold/Silver ratio of say 53, with gold at $1,250/ounce, would yield a silver price around $23.60, or 18% higher from here.
But silver is so overdue for a corrective bounce, it could easily reach for the bottom of the range. If the Gold/Silver ratio went to 45, we'd be looking at $27.75 silver based on $1,250 gold.
About the Author
Peter Krauth is the Resource Specialist for Money Map Press and has contributed some of the most popular and highly regarded investing articles on Money Morning. Peter is headquartered in resource-rich Canada, but he travels around the world to dig up the very best profit opportunity, whether it's in gold, silver, oil, coal, or even potash.