(Street Life is a regular feature that focuses on what's playing in the stock market.)
* ACT I: The Home Run Silvercorp Metals (TSX:SVM) $13.47 Up 128.5 per cent (year to date)
With the silver price breaking $10 US per ounce for the first time in 23 years, Silvercorp had impeccable timing for the release of drilling results from its massive drilling program in the Henan province of China. Numerous silver stocks have been on a tear, but few have spiked like Silvercorp, a Vancouver-based silver/lead/zinc play. Silver speculators have also been holding their breath in anticipation of an application for an exchange-traded fund (ETF) in silver on the New York Stock Exchange that could light a fire under the sector. The ETF, one of the most popular investment trends, would allow investors to invest directly in silver without actually physically holding the metal.
* ACT II: The Bomb True Energy Trust (TSX:TUE.UN) $14.60 Down 30.5 per cent (past four months)
True converted to an income trust in November amid much fanfare, but that was when natural gas was on its high horse in the $10-US range (per mcf), gassy speculators were turning cartwheels in Calgary and some prognosticators were predicting a spike to $20 US on a cold snap. Those projections turned out to be too good to be true and not so good for True. A balmy winter has resulted in the natural gas price crashing from a December high in the $11 range to a recent price of $7, leading to a selloff in gas-weighted companies such as True, which has a 68-per-cent weighting in natural gas. True pays a monthly distribution of 24 cents per unit.
* ACT III: The Takeover Target Intrawest Corp. (TSX:ITW) $37.49 Up 12.9 per cent (four-day rally on news)
There's nothing like the old "strategic alternatives" press release to give a relatively sleepy stock a kickstart. Intrawest, which generally trades under 100,000 shares a day, had more than 675,000 shares change hands in one day as the Vancouver company announced that it has hired advisers to explore strategic alternatives. Investors didn't need to be conked over the head by a "for sale" sign to understand the significance of this news. The company earned 23 cents US per share from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of 2005. Intrawest is an operator of resorts, including Whistler Blackcomb, and a resort real estate developer.
* ACT IV: The Comeback Story JDS Uniphase Canada (TSX:JDU) $4.20 Up 63.1 per cent (year to date) JDS and fibre optic communications may not be as sexy a pairing as they were six years ago when JDS was trading in the stratosphere above $200, but they're starting to raise a few eyebrows again. Although JDS isn't grabbing too many headlines these days, the company continues to churn out a steady stream of encouraging press releases on product development and it hasn't hurt a bit that CNBC's Jim Cramer has been touting JDS on his Mad Money program. The stock recently broke key technical resistance in the $3.89 range, but it may need some help from the sluggish tech sector to sustain its uptrend.
* ACT V: The Beer Wars Sleeman Breweries (TSX:ALE) $11.50 Down 23.2 per cent (past five months)
Sleeman shareholders were not exactly bellying up to the bar on the latest news. Sleeman's latest financials were greeted by shareholders with all the appeal of warm beer served in a styrofoam cup. Sleeman earned $500,000 or three cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2005. That was nowhere near the $3.9-million profit in the year-ago period. Total earnings for '05 were $8.1 million, a far cry from $14.4 million in '04. CEO John Sleeman cited "intense price competition" for the disappointing earnings and also said the company was cutting about 40 jobs as part of a plan to save $2.7 million a year.
* ACT VI: The Uranium Bull Pinetree Capital Corp. (TSX:PNP) $11.29 Up 351.6 per cent (past four months)
In early November, raging uranium bull Jim Dines threw his weight behind Pinetree, touting it to his subscribers. The stock nearly doubled in a flash, confirming the power of the speculative uranium market and The Dines Letter. Normally, such a spike would be followed by a gut-wrenching swoon on profit taking. But Pinetree has managed to sustain its momentum in a spectacular four-month run. The Toronto company funds emerging growth companies and has been focusing its investments on junior uranium companies. Demand for uranium, which has been trading in the $40 US per pound range, has been increasing with the global attention on nuclear energy.
* ACT VII: The Wild Thing CV Technologies (TSXV:CVQ) $3.26 Down 24.2 per cent (year to date)
CV Technologies has been one of the major success stories on the TSX Venture exchange in recent years, but more recently it's also turned into a field day for day traders. A recent article in the Vancouver Sun challenging the effectiveness of COLD-fX, CV's lead product and Canada's No. 1-selling cold and flu remedy, resulted in some wild action. CEO Jacqueline Shan promptly responded, saying the article "contained errors, misleading information and improper context" and stressed that the public had no reason to question the product. The market immediately punished the stock on the newspaper story, driving it down from $3.62 to $3.01 in early intraday trading, but it quickly recovered most of the losses, closing at $3.42.
* ACT VIII: The Penny Jackpot Mansfield Minerals (TSXV:MDR) $2.39 Up 95.9 per cent (three-day run on news)
Some of the air has been seeping out of those junior oil stocks on the TSX Venture, but the junior mining stocks have picked up the slack. And penny gold stocks in particular have become all the rage once again this year after floundering for a couple of years. Mansfield is a classic example of how hot that market is. After Mansfield's shares resumed trading after its halt for exploration results, the stock almost doubled in three days on extraordinary volume. The Vancouver-based company released encouraging assay results from six drillholes at its 100-per-cent-owned Lindero property in Argentina. Before coming to life recently, the stock had spent most of the past year spinning its wheels in the 50-cent range.
(Stock prices based on trading through March 3.)
(Gyle Konotopetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)