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Big 3 Automaker Stellantis Invests $90M in Lithium Triangle Explorer

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Shares of this lithium explorer jumped after an announcement that big-three automaker Stellantis is investing US$90 million in the company. One analyst said other major companies are watching.

Shares of lithium explorer Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp. (LIT:TSX.V; PNXLF:OTC; OAY3:FSE) jumped 111% after it announced that big-three automaker Stellantis (formerly Chrysler) had invested US$90 million to acquire shares in the company.

The Stellantis umbrella includes iconic brands like Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Maserati, and Peugeot. Under the agreement, Peugeot Citroen Argentina SA, a Stellantis subsidiary, will own 19.9% of the company's issued and outstanding shares, and Argentina Lithium will own 80.1%.

Argentina Lithium President and Chief Executive Officer Nikolaos Cacos said it highlights the shortage approaching for the metal needed for electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

Stellantis is reaching down to exploration companies like Argentina Lithium to make sure they have the lithium needed "for the electric vehicle transition, which is coming fast and furious," Cacos said in an interview with Proactive Investors.

Research Corp. analyst Sid Rajeev rated the stock a Buy with a fair value target price of CA$0.52.

The lithium market is expected to grow globally from US$37.8 billion in 2022 to US$89.9 billion in 2030, according to a report by Fortune Business Insights.

"The growing adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs), high-drain portable electronics, and energy storage systems has had a huge impact on the growth of the overall market," the report said.

LIT's share price went from CA$0.23 to CA$0.485 on the day of the announcement.

The news is also bound to attract the attention of other major companies.

"As LIT's projects are close to well-known projects held by majors, the company can be subject to M&A events if it is able to delineate a resource in one or more of its assets," noted Fundamental Research Corp. analyst Sid Rajeev while initiating coverage on the company in July.

Rajeev rated the stock a Buy with a fair value target price of CA$0.52.

After an advance late in September 2022, Technical Analyst Clive Maund noted that "something is going on" with the stock and that it should see a larger move.

The Catalyst: Fueling the New Green Economy

Cacos said having a partner like Stellantis validates the projects and the exploration work that Argentina Lithium has done so far in the Lithium Triangle to find the battery metal that could fuel the new green economy.

The company has acquired resource properties across the Americas, with a considerable focus on Argentina and the Lithium Triangle. Its current projects include Rincon West, Antofalla North, Pocitos, and Incahuasi.

After an advance late in September 2022, Technical Analyst Clive Maund noted that "something is going on" with the stock and that it should see a larger move.

The Rincon West Project includes three mining concessions covering 3,742 hectares at the Rincon Salar, west and north of Rio Tinto Plc's (RIO:NYSE; RIO:ASX; RIO:LSE; RTPPF:OTCPK) adjacent Rincon Project.

At its Antofalla North site, the firm controls 10,050 hectares 25 kilometers west of Salar de Hombre Muerto, the "Salt Pan of the Dead Man."

The Pocitos property includes 26,000 hectares, the company said, and the company's Incahuasi Project involves a 100% interest in 25,000 hectares of granted mineral rights properties in the Incahuasi Salar basin in Catamarca Province, Argentina.

Funding to Advance All Projects

Stellantis' investment "allows us to not think about funding anymore as an exploration company," Cacos said. "I think we can advance all our projects over the next three years, right up to the announcement, define resources and pre-feasibility studies just before, … (and) announcing making a decision or going forward and commercial production."

After the issuance of exchange shares and at the close of the transaction, on or about October 4, Stellantis will own at most 19.9% of the common shares (on an undiluted basis) of Argentina Lithium, the company said.

The exchange agreement also provides Stellantis with observer rights to attend Argentina Lithium's board meetings for as long as Stellantis owns at least 10% of the company and allows it to nominate one director to the Board of Directors.

The companies will enter into a lithium offtake agreement in which Stellantis will buy up to 15,000 tonnes per year of lithium produced by LIT over a seven-year period. The agreement may be extended by the companies.

The supply obligation of the agreement is conditional on the start of commercial lithium production at one or more of Argentina Lithium's projects, as well as other terms, including Stellantis having a first right of first refusal on the sale of lithium products to third parties after production starts.

North American Demand to Drive Lithium Shortfalls

Lithium is a major component of EV batteries, where it is used as a cathode and electrolyte. The soft, silvery metal with highly reactive and flammable properties is also used to strengthen alloys, as a high-temperature lubricant, and as a drug to treat bipolar disorder.

Analysts from Eight Capital predicted that lithium market deficits will widen this decade, and the shortfalls will be driven by demand in North America.

The United States' EV penetration of 6% lags China's 26% and Europe's 20%, analysts Anoop Prihar and Alex Riazanov of Eight Capital wrote in a recent research note. But President Joe Biden's administration has committed to a target of 50% of new vehicle sales being EVs by 2030

"We estimate North American lithium nameplate production capacity will be 262,900 LCE (million tonnes lithium carbonate) in 2026 based on projects that currently have completed a Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS)," Prihar and Riazanov wrote.

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Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp. (LIT:TSX.V; PNXLF:OTC; OAY3:FSE)

*Share Structure as of 9/29/2023

"Although this is a significant increase from the current North American production capacity of 6,000 tonnes LCE, it's still more than 128,000 tonnes short of what we anticipate will be required by the battery plants. As such, we anticipate the fundamentals underlying lithium demand to remain robust."

Ownership and Share Structure

The company doesn't officially share any information regarding management or institutional ownership, but Reuters reported that about 37% was owned by strategic institutions in the most recent reporting.

Its largest shareholders are Lithium Investment Partners LP with 17.68%, Jack Yetiv with 15.24%, Joseph J. Grosso with 3.05%, and the CEO Cacos with 1.04%, according to Reuters.

Its market cap is CA$59.83 million, with 130 million shares outstanding. It trades in a 52-week range of CA$0.60 and CA$0.19.

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Important Disclosures:

  1. As of the date of this article, officers and/or employees of Streetwise Reports LLC (including members of their household) own securities of Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp.
  2. Steve Sobek wrote this article for Streetwise Reports LLC and provides services to Streetwise Reports as an employee.
  3. The article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional. By opening this page, each reader accepts and agrees to Streetwise Reports' terms of use and full legal disclaimer. This article is not a solicitation for investment. Streetwise Reports does not render general or specific investment advice and the information on Streetwise Reports should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Streetwise Reports does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company mentioned on Streetwise Reports.

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