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Hecla: Gold in This Silver Mine?

The economy has yet to mount a full-bore recovery, but many investors already worry about inflation. They are buying inflation-fighting stocks that leap as commodity prices soar. One such stock is Hecla Mining (HL), the largest U.S. silver producer. "For investors looking for a leveraged exposure to rising precious metal prices, Hecla is the answer," says Jared Levin of investment firm A.R. Schmeidler, which owns shares. Hecla fell to 2.30 on June 17, from a 52-week high of 9 a year ago, because of problems in financing its 2008 buyout of Greens Creek Mine, the world's fifth-largest, which more than doubled reserves to 132 million ounces. Hecla raised $60 million in June by selling shares to solve the crisis. Its financials have improved, says Levin, who sees it at 7 in a year. Steven Butler of Canaccord Capital, which has done business with Hecla, rates it a buy partly based on its low price.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.

Marcial writes the Inside Wall Street column for BusinessWeek. In 2008, FT Press published the book Gene Marcial's 7 Commandments of Stock Investing.

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