Live Precious Metals Prices

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ahead of the Bell: Hecla Mining

A CIBC World Markets Corp. analyst upgraded Hecla Mining Co. Friday, saying the gold and silver miner's shares are reasonably priced after a recent decline.

Analyst Brad Humphrey upgraded the stock to "Sector Performer" from "Sector Underperformer," saying in a client note that shares lost about 25 percent since the end of November.

The stock was previously overpriced given expectations of flat production ahead, he wrote.

Shares ended at $9.38 Thursday, and the analyst has a 12-to-18 month target price of $11.75 on shares.

Humphrey believes Hecla is gearing up to bid for full control of Juneau, Alaska-based Greens Creek mine. Hecla already owns 30 percent of the mine, while diversified miner Rio Tinto PLC, which has said it plans to divest some assets, owns 70 percent.

Hecla earlier in the week said it will offer 1.75 million shares of its convertible preferred stock for $100 per share.

The analyst thinks Hecla is trying to raise money to make a bid through the offering. Full ownership of the mine would be good for Hecla, since it would improve production and would bring down costs, he wrote.

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