Lithium prices keep surging, attracting investor interest. Learn about the top US lithium stocks with year-to-date gains.
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Battery metal lithium's gains in 2022 have resumed after dipping in the last quarter.
Experts in the sector expect good long-term fundamentals for lithium as it is an essential part of electric vehicles, and they also believe that prices for the commodity will stay elevated.
“As demand gallops forward at 20 percent a year, and you have potential supply chain problems or supply addition problems, I think that from a pricing perspective, you're going to see lithium, on a contract and a spot basis, well above US$20,000 a tonne,” Chris Berry of House Mountain Partners told the Investing News Network in June.
Here the Investing News Network takes a look at the top lithium stocks with year-to-date gains listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ. The list below was generated using TradingView’s stock screener on August 24, 2022, and includes companies that had market caps above US$50 million at that time.
Year-to-date gain: 135.63 percent; market capitalization: US$2.52 billion; current share price: US$25
In Minas Gerais, Brazil, Sigma Lithium has its Grota do Cirilo hard-rock lithium project, at which it is currently constructing its Phase 1 operations with expected commissioning by year-end 2022. Sigma anticipates Phase I production of 270,000 metric tons (MT) annually. Additionally, Sigma is constructing its greentech dense media separation production plant, which will make its operations vertically integrated. The company has been recognized by the Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) as part of its “Top 50 Stocks for 10 Scarcity Themes.”
On May 26, Sigma filed a consolidated technical report that looks at two initial production phases for Grota do Cirilo. The integrated operation would source feedstock spodumene ore from the company's Phase 1 and Phase 2 lithium deposits to produce battery-grade, high-purity lithium concentrate. The company pegs the after-tax net production revenue at US$5.1 billion and the after-tax internal rate of return at 589 percent, and states that this expansion scenario "will potentially position (it) as the world’s fourth largest lithium producer." Sigma's share price spiked to its highest point for the first half of the year on May 27, reaching a level of US$18.30.
Most recently, Sigma shared an update on its “transformative” Q2, mentioning the previously announced news that it has increased the resource at Grota do Cirilo by 50 percent; a Phase 3 technical report has now been filed. Additionally, as of the announcement, total construction progress at the project stood at 32 percent. Sigma’s share price climbed through July and August, and after a small drop reached a year-to-date high of US$25 on August 24.
Year-to-date gain: 99.22 percent; market capitalization: US$26.07 billion; current share price: US$101.94
SQM is one of the world’s largest lithium companies. It produces lithium out of Chile’s Salar de Atacama and brings it to the market in the form of lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide.
SQM is developing the hard-rock Mount Holland lithium project in Australia through a joint venture with Wesfarmers (ASX:WES,OTC Pink:WFAFF). The company places a heavy emphasis on the sustainability of its operations, including a production process that involves 97.4 percent solar energy.
On March 2, SQM released its 2021 earnings report, including net income of US$585.5 million compared to US$164.5 million for 2020. SQM's share price spiked in May to hit US$90.21 on May 18, the same day the company announced both its Q1 earnings report and the approval of an interim dividend payment for investors. Its share price continued to spike through late May, reaching a year-to-date high of US$113.33. On August 17, SQM announced another interim dividend and shared its Q2 and H1 earnings for this year. In H1, the company saw US$1.655 billion in net income, which was an increase of 940 percent over its US$157.8 million net income in H1 2021.
Year-to-date gain: 21.61 percent; market capitalization: US$33.72 billion; current share price: US$287.88
Albemarle is a lithium giant that produces lithium, bromine and catalyst solutions with operations around the world. It has a 49 percent interest in the company whose subsidiary, Talison Lithium, owns and runs the Greenbushes mine, as well as a 60 percent interest in Mineral Resources' (ASX:MIN,OTC Pink:MALRF) Wodgina mine. Both of these are hard-rock lithium mines in Western Australia. The company runs the Silver Peak lithium mine in Nevada, which it calls the only producing lithium mine in North America; it also creates high-quality lithium products.
Albemarle's share price has spent most of the year down from its US$236.67 start, including a low of US$172.09 in March. However, mid-May saw the company finally make a prolonged break above that level, hitting a year-to-date high of US$270.92 on May 27. The company started the month with the May 4 announcement of its Q1 results, with highlights including a 36 percent year-on-year increase in net sales to US$1.13 billion and increased 2022 guidance. By May 23, the company had announced further increases to its guidance for this year, stating that it expects its adjusted EBITDA to be up more than 160 percent versus the full 2021 year.
On June 13, Albemarle announced the inauguration of its third chemical conversion plant, which it states should double its lithium production, as well as lower water consumption by 30 percent per MT. That started a consistent trend of upward momentum for the company’s share price, which continued through its decision to introduce a dividend, as well as its Q2 results. Highlights include a net sales increase of 91 percent over Q2 2021 and plans to build “integrated lithium operations” in the US. Additionally, its Kemerton I lithium conversion plant saw first production in July. The company’s share price hit a year-to-date high of US$295.68 on August 25.
Year-to-date gain: 18.3 percent; market capitalization: US$1.14 billion; current share price: US$63.49
Based in the US state of North Carolina, Piedmont Lithium is focused on producing lithium hydroxide from spodumene ore in order to provide companies with a lithium hydroxide source outside of China, and it hopes to aid in the creation of an American battery supply chain. In addition to its fully integrated Carolina lithium project, the company also has properties in Quebec and Ghana.
In early February, Piedmont released its 2022 development plans, including the advancement of its Carolina project towards contemplated production of 30,000 MT per year of lithium hydroxide and 242,000 MT per year of spodumene concentrate. On March 9, the company announced the completion of a preliminary economic assessment for its second lithium hydroxide plant in the US; it will expand Piedmont's planned US lithium hydroxide manufacturing capacity to 60,000 MT on an annual basis.
Piedmont’s share price spent March trending upwards, and it hit a year-to-date high of US$78.39 on April 4. On April 28, the company shared that its partner, Sayona Mining (ASX:SYA,OTCQB:SYAXF), had discovered a new lithium pegmatite zone at its Moblan lithium project in Quebec. Although its share price plunged in mid-May, Piedmont has since made up for most of those losses.
Year-to-date gain: 6.19 percent; market capitalization: US$4.23 billion; current share price: US$31.72
Lithium Americas is focused on advancing its multiple significant lithium projects, in particular Caucharí-Olaroz in Argentina and Thacker Pass in Nevada, US. Phase 2 construction at Caucharí-Olaroz is currently underway, adding production of 20,000 MT per year. Thacker Pass is the US’ largest lithium resource, and it received its final state environmental permits earlier in the year. Additionally, the company acquired Millennial Lithium in January, adding the company’s Pastos Grandes lithium project in Argentina to Lithium America’s portfolio.
Following the release of its 2021 full-year and Q4 reports on March 17, Lithium Americas’ share price rose from US$27.73 to a year-to-date high of US$38.94 two weeks later on April 1. However, its share price fell following that, and the company’s Q1 results did not have a similar effect on the price.
“The Lithium Technical Development Center being commissioned today is a shining example of the productive public-private partnerships that we are fostering across the state to power economic growth and responsible use of resources,” Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak said in a press release. “This is a fantastic achievement for all involved that puts Nevada firmly at the center of the U.S.’s clean energy leadership.”
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Securities Disclosure: I, Lauren Kelly, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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