ASX uranium stocks go gangbusters as the world turns to nuclear energy
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ASX uranium stocks go gangbusters as the world turns to nuclear energy

Australia’s three biggest uranium shares have hit 10-year highs in 2023

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Oct 31, 2023 10:49amGrey Clock 3 min

Uranium is set to play a major role in the world’s green energy transition, with many nations proactively developing their nuclear energy capacity to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels for power generation in the future.

Whilst most nations are pursuing renewables and green energy storage systems as their definitive long-term solution for climate change, it is likely not possible to develop enough wind and solar technology and infrastructure quickly enough to replace fossil fuels in time to meet 2050 net-zero emissions targets.

On top of this, volatile oil and gas prices amid supply uncertainty have enhanced the interest in nuclear power. The pandemic and Russia-Ukraine conflict created significant oil supply disruptions, OPEC has recently placed limits on production, and the Israel-Gaza war may make the situation even worse. AMP Chief Economist Shane Oliver says the global oil price could rise to US$150 per barrel – up from the low $80 range today – if Israel and Iran commence a military engagement.

Against this backdrop, nations are rushing to embrace nuclear technology to act, at least, as an initial first step on the road to a green energy future. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), there are approximately 440 reactors in operation across 32 countries today, with 56 new ones under construction. Monash Investors estimates there are another 100 reactors in the advanced planning stages across 17 countries. China alone is expected to build 32 new reactors by the end of the 2020s.

Surging demand for uranium has been met with low existing inventories. This has created a perfect storm for the global uranium price, which is now at a 12-year high of US$73 per pound. The rising uranium price has made it economical for many mining companies to restart dormant mines and develop new ones in the face of new and likely ongoing long-term demand. “We see prices rising year-on-year for the next 10-20 years or till the world finds another source for large scale uninterruptible base load power with a low carbon footprint,” SP Angel mining analyst John Meyer told Reuters recently.

All of this has led to skyrocketing share prices for ASX uranium stocks this year.

In Australia, nuclear energy is banned. The Federal Opposition has been arguing to include nuclear energy in the mix for Australia’s own green energy transition. The Albanese Government disagrees, advocating for continuing renewables development instead. Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen says developing local nuclear energy production is too expensive. He says recent modelling shows it would cost $387 billion to replace Australia’s coal-fired power plants with small modular reactors.


Australia’s 3 largest ASX uranium stocks


The three biggest pure-play uranium shares on the ASX have outperformed the broader market exponentially in 2023. While the S&P/ASX 200 Index has lost 2.5% of its value, Australia’s biggest listed pure-play uranium miners have exploded with share price growth of 40% to 115% between them.


Paladin Energy

Paladin Energy is the biggest pure-play uranium stock listed on the ASX, with a market capitalisation of $2.81 billion. The Paladin Energy share price closed on Monday at 95 cents, up 43% in 2023 so far. The stock reached a decade-high price of $1.15 in September.  According to a survey of analysts on CommSec, five out of seven analysts covering Paladin Energy shares rate them a strong buy.


Boss Energy

Boss Energy has a market capitalisation of $1.59 billion. The Boss Energy share price closed on Monday at $4.37, up 115% in 2023. It hit an all-time record price of $4.98 in September. Three out of six analysts covering Boss Energy shares rate them a hold.


Deep Yellow

Deep Yellow has a market capitalisation of $963 million. The Deep Yellow share price closed yesterday at $1.27, up 85% in 2023. The stock cracked a 10-year high of $1.41 per share in October.  Three out of three analysts covering Deep Yellow shares rate them a strong buy.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Auto dealers across many parts of the country say electric vehicles are becoming too hard a sell for buyers worried about the range, reliability and price of these models.

When Paul LaRochelle heard Ford Motor was coming out with an electric pickup truck, the dealer was excited about the prospects for his business.

“We thought we could build a million of them and sell them,” said LaRochelle, a vice president at Sheehy Auto Stores, which sells vehicles from a dozen brands in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

The reality has been less positive. On Sheehy’s car lots, LaRochelle says there is a six- to 12-month supply of EVs, compared with a month of gasoline-powered vehicles.

With automakers set to release a barrage of new electric models in the coming years, concerns are mounting among auto retailers about whether the technology will have broader appeal given that many customers are still reluctant to make the switch.

Battery-powered models have been piling up on car lotsdealers say, as EV sales growth has slowed in the U.S. this year. Car companies have been offering a combination of discounts and lower interest-rate deals in an effort to juice demand. But it hasn’t been enough, because buyer reticence extends beyond the price tag, dealers say.

“I’m not hearing the consumer confidence in the technology,” said Mary Rice, dealer principal at Toyota of Greensboro in North Carolina. “People aren’t beating down the door to buy these things, and they all have a different excuse why they aren’t buying one.”

Customers cite concerns about vehicles burning through a battery charge faster in cold weather or not being able to travel as far as they expected on a single charge, dealers say. Potential buyers also worry that chargers aren’t as readily accessible as gas stations or might be broken.

Franchise dealerships fear that the push to roll out new models will inundate them with hard-to-sell vehicles. Research firm S&P Global Mobility said there are 56 EV models for sale in the U.S. this year, and the number is expected to nearly double to 100 next year.

“I start to think, you know maybe we should just all pump the brakes a little bit,” Rice said.

A group of dealers expressed their concerns about the government’s role in pushing electric vehicles in a letter last month to President Biden.

A Toyota Motor spokesman said the majority of dealers have become “increasingly more confident in their ability to sell Toyota EV products.”

At Ford, the company’s electric-vehicle sales are rising, including for its F-150 Lightning pickup, but demand isn’t evenly spread across the country, according to a spokesman.

Dealers say that after selling an EV, they sometimes hear complaints about charging and the vehicles not always meeting their advertised range. In some cases, customers seek to return them to the dealer shortly after buying them.

“We have a steady number of clients that have attempted to or flat out returned their car,” said Sheehy’s LaRochelle.

While EVs remain a small but rapidly expanding part of the new-car market, the pace of growth has slowed this year. Electric-vehicle sales increased 48% in the first 11 months, compared with a 69% jump during the same period in 2022, according to Motor Intelligence. Sales remain concentrated in a few states, with California accounting for the largest chunk, S&P Global Mobility data found.

The cooling growth has raised broader questions in the industry about whether car companies face a temporary hurdle or a longer-term demand challenge. Automakers have invested billions of dollars to bring more EV models to the market, and many analysts and car executives say they remain optimistic that sales will continue to expand.

“Although the rate of growth has slowed recently, EV demand is clearly moving in the right direction,” said General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra on a recent conference call with analysts. A combination of more affordable model options and better charging infrastructure would help encourage more people to buy electric vehicles, she said.

There are also varying views within the dealer community about how quickly buyers will adopt the technology.In hot spots for electric-vehicle demand, such as Los Angeles, dealers say their battery-powered models are some of their top sellers. Those popular EV markets also tend to have more mature public charging networks.

Selling an electric car or truck outside of those demand centres is proving more difficult.

Longtime EV owner Carmella Roehrig thought she was ready to go full-electric and sold her backup gasoline vehicle. But after the 62-year-old North Carolina resident found herself stranded last year in a rural area of South Carolina, she changed her mind. Roehrig’s Tesla Model S got a flat tire, but none of the stores in the area carried tires for a Tesla. She ended up paying a worker at a nearby shop to drive her home.

Roehrig still has her Tesla but bought a pickup truck for long road trips.

Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“I have these conversations with people who say we’ll all be in EVs in 15 years. I say: ‘I’m not so sure. I’ve tried to do it,’” Roehrig said. “I think you need a gas backup.”

Customers who want to ditch their gas vehicle for environmental reasons are sometimes hesitant, said Mickey Anderson, president of Baxter Auto Group, which owns dealerships in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado.

“We’re in the Colorado Springs market. If this is your sole mode of transportation, and you’re in a market in extremes of elevation and temperature, the actual range is very limited,” Anderson said. “It makes it extremely impractical.”

Dealers representing around 4,000 stores across the U.S. signed the letter in November addressed to Biden, saying the administration’s proposed auto-emissions regulations designed to promote electric-vehicle sales are unrealistic. The signatories ranged from stores owned by family businesses to publicly held giants such as AutoNation and Lithia Motors.

“Some customers are in the market for electric vehicles, and we are thrilled to sell them. But the majority of customers are simply not ready to make the change,” the letter said.

Some carmakers are pushing back EV-rollout plans. GM said in mid-October that it would delay the opening of an electric pickup plant by a year to late 2025. In response to weaker-than-expected consumer demand, Ford said in late October that it would defer $12 billion of planned spending on electric-vehicle investment.

Since September, dealers on average took more than two months to sell an EV, compared with 40 days for all vehicles, according to car-shopping website Edmunds.

While discounts have helped boost sales of some electric vehicles, they also have led to repercussions for some current owners because it reduces the value of their vehicles, dealers say.

“Most people don’t have the confidence to buy an EV and know what it will be worth in 10-15 years,” said Rice from the Toyota dealership.

It may take some time for the industry to adjust because it is still in an early stage of switching to electric vehicles, Sheehy’s LaRochelle said.

“We’re asking for this market to grow organically,” he said.


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