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Analysts Increase Target Prices on Cobalt Pure-Play

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With electric vehicle demand booming, cobalt is a hot commodity, rising about 130% in 2017. This TSX.V-listed company offers one of the few ways to gain pure-play exposure.

Cobalt 27 Capital Corp. (KBLT:TSX.V; CBLLF:OTC; 27O:FSE) is one of the few avenues for pure-play investment exposure to cobalt, as the company holds an inventory of physical cobalt as well as streaming agreements. The company recently closed a bought-deal offering, selling 8.1 million common shares at CA$10.50 each for gross proceeds of approximately CA$85 million. The exercise of an overallotment option has brought the total gross proceeds to CA$97.8 million.

The company is using those funds to purchase 822 metric tonnes of physical cobalt at an average price of US$36.28 per pound. These purchases bring Cobalt 27's total inventory to about 2,982 metric tonnes of cobalt.

Cobalt, an essential battery ingredient, has had a stellar year, rising about 130% in 2017, and demand is expected to continue to grow.

Cormark Securities analyst MacMurray Whale gave the base case for cobalt in a Dec. 19 initiation report on Cobalt 27: "Cobalt demand is booming from rising EV adoption and need for cobalt in the current battery formulations. Production is constrained: 99% of cobalt is produced as a co-product, two-thirds comes from the politically turbulent DRC and 84% is processed in China. We expect total demand will rise to more than 300,000 t by 2025, driving prices higher."

He also noted that gaining exposure to cobalt is not easy, as "few existing cobalt-producing mines are expanding, and the current cobalt-focused development companies are very early stage, having sizable exposure to other coproducts and arsenic. For this reason, we believe investors should gain exposure to the commodity itself. Cobalt 27 Capital Corp. provides this opportunity with a balanced set of investment risks."

Cormark has a Buy recommendation and CA$13.00 target price on Cobalt 27, noting, "as a holder of almost 3,000 t of physical cobalt metal, KBLT brings immediate exposure to high cobalt prices and expectations for further price increases owing to rising demand from the battery space. Further upside exists through its ownership of net smelter returns."

Analyst Michael Doumet of Scotiabank also discussed cobalt demand in a Dec. 19 report, stating, "we believe higher cobalt prices will be required to incentivize additional mine startups to help feed longer-term demand growth. According to CRU, electric vehicle production will require approximately 100% and 300% of current cobalt production to power batteries in 2025 and 2030, respectively (other uses account for 95%)."

"As automakers look to secure long-term supplies of cobalt, producers (including Glencore) remain reluctant to sign fixed-price agreements. As such, we continue to believe price risk remains to the upside as current 'perfect storm' fundamentals could push prices to levels comparable to its previous peak (~US$50/lb)," Doumet added.

Doumet is bullish on Cobalt 27, writing, "we are increasing our one-year target price to CA$13.25/share [from CA$12.50/share]. Still early days in the KBLT story, we see continued upside in the shares from cobalt price appreciation and value accretive transactions. KBLT is in a unique position as it looks to transform itself from a physical holding company into a hybrid physical/streaming company—and create shareholder value in the process."

That optimism was shared by other analysts. Colin Healey of Haywood Securities wrote on Dec. 19 that the capital raise and cobalt purchase "puts KBLT in a strategically attractive position in the cobalt market and sets the stage for a streaming transaction."

"Management's rationale for the deal was to bolster its balance sheet and liquidity profile prior to enacting on a streaming deal in 2018. Post-deal, we expect the Company to have ~$30M in liquidity and no debt," Healey noted.

The Haywood analyst also stated that cobalt market dynamics "continue to support higher spot prices. . .as EV-based demand continues to rise in the face of supply risk and greater supply-chain scrutiny from end users."

Haywood has increased its target price for Cobalt 27 to $CA14.00 from CA$11.50.

Analyst Jonathan Guy of Numis highlighted that the cobalt price continues to rise "supported by 45% YoY growth in EV registrations in China with the Chinese also now changing the regulations around battery capacity that should favor the battery types that contain cobalt. An average electric vehicle contains between 4kg and 14kg of cobalt with battery demand accounting for approximately 50% of overall demand. With EV take up growing at an exponential rate and only very limited new cobalt supply entering the market we expect the market to tighten further driving prices upward."

Guy also stated that "we expect the KBLT share price to be driven upward by a combination of higher metal prices and the signing of cobalt streams with nickel and copper producers that produce the metal as a by-product."

Guy noted that Numis retains "a Buy recommendation but increase[s] our target price to C$15 (from C$11) driven by our expectation of higher cobalt prices."

GMP Securities raised its target price on Cobalt 27 to CA$13.30 from CA$12.50 on Jan. 3. Analyst Anoop Prihar stated that Cobalt 27's "additional physical cobalt inventory provides a natural hedge against rising long-term cobalt prices."

Prihar also noted that in late 2017, a legal dispute between Gecamines, the DRC's state-owned miner, and Groupe de Terill Lubumbashi has shut down the Big Hill tailings project, taking 4% of global cobalt supply offline. "GTL is now pursuing legal action against Gecamines and the case is scheduled to be contested in court in 2020. As such, GTL's Big Hill furnace could remain shut down until the legal issue is resolved," Prihar stated.

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1) Patrice Fusillo compiled this article for Streetwise Reports LLC and provides services to Streetwise reports as an employee. She or members of her household own securities of the following companies mentioned in the article: None. She or members of her household are paid by the following companies mentioned in this article: None.
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