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China iron fears are overblown, but watch valuations

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The big banks are now warning that China's hunger for iron ore might fade as electricity shortages raise the risk of summer outages for the country's steel mills. It is true that China faces serious power supply issues that could knock 3% to 4% off the country's industry output over the peak summer season. But for Deutsche Bank to wake up to this reality now and say iron ore prices might fall is another case of Wall Street showing up a little late to the party. This has been a factor for months, so we have to wonder why it is only showing up as a risk factor now. Meanwhile, the steel producers themselves are talking down iron prices -- one of their biggest cost centers -- as a global "bubble." The real trend seems to be that China is simply pondering whether to cut back on its steel production, which would cement the downswing in ore import volumes from Brazil and India that we have already seen. If Beijing chooses, it could end any ore bubble overnight. But having said all that, some of the players in the space have now priced in some weakness. You have the majors like VALE ( quote ), BHP ( quote ) and RIO ( quote ), and then there are more specialized names like CLF ( quote ). On the basis of price to enterprise value divided by EBITDA (P/EV/EBITDA), VALE is actually the cheapest, trading at barely 5 times EV/EBITDA. BHP is most expensive at over 8 EV/EBITDA.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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