What are we looking for?
Lithium stocks have been on an upward trajectory for the past two years, driven by the 15-fold increase in the price of lithium carbonate. Lithium carbonate prices have come down 40 per cent since November and some of these stocks have followed. What are we now seeing for valuations in this space?
We used StockCalc’s screener to select the top 10 lithium stocks by market capitalization listed on the TSX and TSX-V. We then used StockCalc’s valuation tools to calculate fundamental – or intrinsic – valuation for each stock to see if it is undervalued or overvalued compared with its price.
Overview of the techniques used:
- Discounted cash flow (DCF value) is a valuation technique in which cash-flow projections are discounted back to the present to calculate value per share;
- A price comparables technique values the company on the basis of ratios from selected comparable companies;
- An adjusted book value is calculated by multiplying book value per share by its 10-year average price-to-book ratio.
- If we have analyst coverage, we look at the consensus target price.
More about StockCalc
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What we found
This sector is composed of companies that are primarily engaged in the exploration for lithium. From our previous lithium article, the supply of lithium carbonate is projected to double over the next three years (26-per-cent annual growth) and demand for electric vehicles – which require lithium for batteries – to grow at a 17-per-cent annual rate. Given those numbers we would expect lithium prices to remain at or below current levels out to 2025. Beyond 2025, global growth in demand for EVs coupled with the time required to bring new mine supply online will lead to significant deficits of lithium.
None of the stocks on this list pay a dividend, only one company (Allkem) reported revenue last quarter, and seven of the 10 stocks are up over the past 12 months, including Patriot Battery Metals Inc., which is up about 1,300 per cent as of today. This is a risky space and it is difficult to run discounted cash flow models for exploration stage companies until a resource has been defined, so we defer to other valuation methods for companies like this. Let’s look at a few of these companies:
Patriot Battery Metals (PMET-X) is a mineral exploration company focused on their Corvette Property, located in the James Bay region of Quebec. The company also owns the Freeman Creek Gold Property in Idaho and other assets in Canada. PMET saw its share price jump three times in the past 12 months on discoveries of lithium at its Corvette property. Our valuation is well below the current price but we will be very interested in their initial estimate of reserves expected in June of 2023. The company recently announced a plan to expand drilling through a $50-million flow-through raise, in which the tax benefits go to the shareholders.
American Lithium Corp. (LI-X) is an exploration-stage company. Its current focus is on developing its TLC lithium claystone project in the Esmeralda lithium district in Nevada. In addition, the Falchani lithium and Macusani uranium development-stage projects are being advanced in southeastern Peru. General Motors is making a US$650-million equity investment in Lithium America’s Thacker Pass mine in Nevada. Our valuation shows considerable upside to the current stock price.
You can see in the accompanying table the percentage difference between each stock’s recent closing price and its intrinsic value. The “StockCalc Valuation” column is a weighted calculation derived from the models and analyst target data, if used.
Brian Donovan, CBV, is the president of StockCalc, a Canadian fintech based in Miramichi, N.B.