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3 lithium stocks to ride a multi-year cycle

Lithium stocks

The world used to run on coal and other types of fuel that powered the different titans of industry. This cycle started with transportation through railways to factories and steel mills that were the backbone of the Industrial Revolution. That led to the global economic growth of the 1940s through the 1980s. Today, the Information Revolution calls upon a different fuel source.

Electric vehicles, bullet trains, and factories counting on the automated assembly process are enabled by new technological breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and robotics. A vast list of businesses realize that they all need two essential components if they wish to expand and remain competitive in today's changing world: chips and batteries.

Now, you can go chasing the actual battery stocks or even attempt to jump into a potential winner across the electric vehicle space (where new companies spur from nowhere nearly every day), or you can take the "shovel" approach in this gold rush by considering the best lithium stocks.

You will soon realize why names like Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE: SQM) and other peers like Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB) could be the place to be.

But wait, there's more

There is a reasonably speculative demand wave coming from the electric vehicle space, as names like Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) and even China's rising star BYD Company Limited (OTCMKTS: BYDDF) keep on pumping double-digit increases in sales year after year with no signs of slowing down. However, there are more concrete spaces where lithium demand can also be found.

Analysts at The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) have expressed their bullish view on the manufacturing sector of the United States, boldly predicting a breakout in that space as the country's economy begins to heat up again, particularly on the expectation that the Fed will cut interest rates during the year.

What does this mean for these lithium stocks? Factories don't necessarily run on lithium batteries. Still, many rely on energy storage technology that needs lithium as the "battery" to store this energy. So, if Goldman is correct, many factories will probably add to the demand for lithium.

A more precise and stronger demand root can be found in something as simple as cell phone usage. According to Newzoo, as of 2022, the United States was the leader in cell phone usage, where up to 81.6% of the population used one. China, the fastest-growing middle class in the world, only has a 68.4% penetration rate.

What about India? The newly rising superstar economy has a cell phone penetration rate of only 65.5%. This means that, as these nations become wealthier, the population will likely start adopting cell phone usage and other battery-dependent technologies. Ring the register for lithium producers!

For those more developed nations who won't see the hyper-growth in lithium demand for cell phones, you can rest assured of how they are accelerating adoption of the use of electric vehicles.

How to pick them

Based on these trends, it should be no surprise to see how analysts are projecting earnings per share growth for these stocks on top of their bullish price targets being set.

After landing an exclusive deal with BYD, which has overtaken Tesla to become the world leader in EV sales, Sociedad Quimica y Minera is now in a solid and unique position to expand its financials and future growth prospects massively.

This could be why analysts boldly see a $69.10 a share price target on the stock, calling for a 58.3% upside from today's prices. Backing the upside scenario comes a price discount, which is only a fraction of the all-time high price of $115.80 in 2022. A more than 60% decline places this stock as a ridiculous bargain.

The same bullish trends can be found in Albemarle stock, as the company reported explosive financial growth in its latest quarterly earnings report. With a 31% jump in sales, $9.6 billion is a record high in company history. These results are driven by a 35% growth in volume for energy storage products, right on target with Goldman.

Analysts see this stock growing its earnings per share by as much as 95.7% for the following twelve months, the key driver for a $193 share price target, calling for a rally of 60% from where the stock is today.

One last worthy mention is Lithium Americas Corp. (NYSE: LAC); this is an exciting story with a potentially life-changing upside as long as you have the patience to hang on in a wild ride. This company makes no revenue yet; its only promise is to strike a lithium reserve in Northern Nevada through its "Thacker Pass" project.

If management does announce the sudden news of a lithium reserve being found, analysts are positioning the stock to rally by as much as 300.0% in their $17.1 price target. Whatever your portfolio appetite needs today can be found inside this short list of on-demand lithium players.

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