Lithium prices keep surging, attracting investor interest. Learn about the top US lithium stocks with year-to-date gains as of May 2022.
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Battery metal lithium's gains in 2022 have continued through the fifth month of the year. These highs are largely to do with the continued success of electric vehicles, which are seeing increased uptake.
Companies operating in the space are seeing gains against that backdrop. While many experienced share price dips in mid-May, some stocks hit new year-to-date highs at the end of the month.
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 May 31, 2022, and includes companies that had market caps above US$50 million at that time.
1. SQM (NYSE:SQM)
Year-to-date gain: 109.28 percent; market capitalization: US$29.16 billion; current share price: US$106.17
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. April 26 brought its annual general shareholders meeting, for which it released its resolutions. Although its share price hit a peak in April, a valley was seen at the end of the month. SQM spiked back up in May the same day the company announced both its Q1 earnings report and the approval of an interim dividend payment. It continued to climb to reach a year-to-date high of US$113.33 on May 27.
2. Sigma Lithium (NASDAQ:SGML)
Year-to-date gain: 60.04 percent; market capitalization: US$1.673 billion; current share price: US$16.66
In Minas Gerais, Brazil, Sigma Lithium has its Grota do Cirilo hard-rock lithium project, which has been in production at a pilot scale since 2018. Sigma expects Phase I production of 220,000 metric tons (MT) annually.
According to the company, its goal is to become “one of the world’s largest, lowest-cost producers of high-purity, environmentally sustainable lithium products.” Sigma is constructing its greentech dense media separation production plant, which will make its operations vertically integrated.
The company was recently recognized by the Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) as part of its “Top 50 Stocks for 10 Scarcity Themes.” In late March, the company announced environmental, social and governance steps it would be taking, including donating 7,000 food baskets to the region it operates in. Sigma went on to release its 2021 annual results alongside an update on the construction of its Phase 1 production plant, which is on schedule.
In mid-April, the company updated its feasibility study with a potential production capacity increase to 450,000 MT per year. Following that, its share price spent much of April and early May elevated, including a fresh year-to-date high on May 4 of C$22.21, before falling back down.
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."
3. Livent (NYSE:LTHM)
Year-to-date gain: 30.39 percent; market capitalization: US$5.142 billion; current share price: US$31.79
Livent is a global lithium producer with manufacturing facilities in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. The company creates lithium products that serve diverse markets such as energy storage and battery systems, polymers, aerospace and pharmaceuticals.
Livent’s performance has been erratic this year, with many peaks and valleys. It has spent much of the year under its 2022 starting price of US$25.42, not breaking above it until April, when many lithium companies were seeing big gains off the back of strong lithium prices. Although shares dropped close to the US$20 mark in late April, two pieces of news — Livent’s doubling of its ownership in Nemaska Lithium, bringing it to 50 percent, and its Q1 results — spurred a jump from US$21.37 on May 2 to a year-to-date high of US$28.55 on May 4. The company's Q1 results show revenue increases of 17 percent quarter-on-quarter and 56 percent year-on-year.
It has since topped its year-to-date high, climbing to US$34.49 on May 27 after seeing a pit in mid-May. The rise came after news of a collaboration between Livent and Lilium (NASDAQ:LILM) on the development of the first all-electric vertical takeoff and landing jet. The two companies will be collaborating on research and development for "the advancement of lithium metal technology for use in high-performance battery cells."
4. Piedmont Lithium (NASDAQ:PLL)
Year-to-date gain: 23.45 percent; market capitalization: US$1.162 billion; current share price: US$64.76
Based in the US state of North Carolina, Piedmont Lithium is focused on producing lithium hydroxide from spodumene ore. Its goal is 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.
At the end of March, Piedmont announced its partner Atlantic Lithium (LSE:ALL,OTCQX:ALLIF) had completed a mineral resource estimate at the Ewoyaa project in Ghana, in which Piedmont has the right to earn a 50 percent interest. 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.
5. Albemarle (NYSE:ALB)
Year-to-date gain: 11.4 percent; market capitalization: US$30.49 billion; current share price: US$260.42
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. In addition to producing lithium at its many operations, the company 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 net sales up 36 percent year-on-year to US$1.13 billion and increased 2022 guidance. By May 23, the company had announced further increases to its 2022 guidance.
"We now expect full-year 2022 adjusted EBITDA to be up more than 160% from prior year based on favorable market dynamics for our Lithium and Bromine businesses," Albemarle CEO Kent Masters said. "Both businesses are critical for transitioning to greener energy and advancing electrification and digitalization."
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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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