May 29, 2024

APMEX CEO Says No Bullion Shortage

Despite recent volatility, gold and silver prices continue to push to new highs.  After a brief pullback on earlier this week, silver rebounded strong and once again approaches the $50 level. Gold, which has lagged the price gains in silver, recently rose to a fresh all time high and remains solidly above the $1,500 level.

The rapid rise in silver prices has resulted in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange increasing the margin requirements on silver futures for the third time.  The press provided numerous accounts of traders taking huge positions in bearish silver puts.  Silver also faces the psychologically important barrier of $50 per ounce.   During the last great silver bull move of the early 1980’s silver rapidly collapsed from the $50 range and subdued for decades.

Despite the calls for a major correction by silver bears, the metal remains near all time highs and there have been numerous press reports of a physical shortage of silver based on intense investor demand.

Indications of a supply/demand imbalance in the bullion markets can be seen in many areas.   The US Mint has been rationing Silver Eagle bullion coins to its authorized purchasers and earlier this year the Royal Canadian Mint admitted that it was having major problems in sourcing adequate supplies of silver due to high demand.  The spot price of physical silver is trading above the price of futures contracts (known as backwardation) and this is an indication of huge physical demand.  In addition, earlier this week, APMEX, a major precious metals dealer, offered to buy bullion at a generous premium from its customers and cited “incredible demand” for gold and silver bullion products.

Although APMEX says there is no supply/demand imbalance, they recently increased their buy price for some US Mint bullion products. In particular, they are offering $3 over spot silver for one ounce American Silver Eagles. This is higher than the company’s cost of acquisition directly from the United States Mint, which sells the coins at $2 over spot to authorized purchasers.

In order to get a better assessment of the precious metal markets and supply/demand situation in bullion products, Gold and Silver Blog interviewed Michael Haynes, the CEO of American Precious Metals Exchange (APMEX).

When asked about the high prices APMEX is offering for Silver Eagles, Haynes said, “APMEX had not made a general offer to the customer base in quite some time and it seemed logical to remind the customers that APMEX has a need to buy. With respect to prices on Silver Eagles, you rightly describe that APMEX is offering more than the Mint sell price and you also rightly observe that the Mint is allocating product. As previously discussed, APMEX supplements its buying needs from the secondary market. Therefore, APMEX is buying at the bid offered to the customers and as mentioned above, APMEX would rather buy from its customers than a commercial dealer”.

Thus, despite the challenges experienced in other sectors of the market, from APMEX’s perspective they are able to obtain adequate supplies to meet customer demand.   Michael Haynes noted that APMEX is “currently able to buy the products needed to maintain adequate inventories for customers”.

Michael Haynes also provided insights into current customer buying trends.  According to Mr. Haynes, “average order sizes are increasing slightly, but that may be attributed to higher prices of the underlying product.  Recently, the purchases have shifted slightly toward silver”.  There has been no dramatic changes in customer buying patterns related to product size or premium according to Mr. Haynes.

Addressing  the appreciation in precious metals prices, Mr. Haynes noted that “APMEX sales seem to rise in either a rising market or a declining market.  The customers that purchase under those different scenarios are different, in that new customers tend to purchase on increases and mature customers tend to purchase on pullbacks”.

APMEX has apparently met the challenges of meeting surging customer demand for physical bullion products and, in addition, maintains a liquid market for those investors who chose to sell.  Mr. Haynes calls APMEX “one of the great business stories of the internet age”. APMEX was founded by Scott Thomas who has built the company into one of the largest dealers in coins and precious metals based on “a great passion to satisfy customers”.   Mr. Haynes stated that one of his goals is to “reach more of the population with the opportunity to own precious metals”.