The Strangest Silver Company in the World

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There is a company with 6 million net ounces of probable silver reserves, none of which it took from underground. It has a history of large silver finds but gets no respect from investors as it has yet to turn a profit. It's currently in litigation with one European nation over one of its finds, and in partnership with another that has hired it for its services. It might just be the strangest silver company in the world.

To give you a hint, it's not a miner like Silvercorp Metals (NYS: SVM) , which got rocked earlier this year by short-sellers, but it has had its share of doubters. It's not a silver streamer like Silver Wheaton (NYS: SLW) , which is one of the most interesting silver businesses I've seen.

Give up?
I'm talking about treasure-hunting company Odyssey Marine Exploration (NAS: OMEX) . In January of last year, the U.K. government awarded the company the exclusive salvage right for the SS Gairsoppa, a British cargo steamer sunk in 1941 by a German U-boat while carrying a significant cargo of silver. Odyssey assumed all the risk of the search and salvage in exchange for 80% of the salvage value after expenses. The ship is believed to have been carrying 7 million total ounces of silver.

Odyssey finally announced two weeks ago that they had found the SS Gairsoppa, "nearly 4,700 meters below the surface of the North Atlantic, approximately 300 miles off the coast of Ireland in international waters." Then yesterday, the company announced it had discovered a second British ship 100 miles from the Gairsoppa. It had found the SS Mantola, a ship from World War I that is believed to have more than 600,000 ounces of silver on board.

At today's silver prices of roughly $32 per ounce, Odyssey's share of the finds, amounting to roughly 6 million net ounces of silver, is worth nearly $190 million -- just 5% less than the current market cap of the stock. While that does not account for the expenses of search and salvage, these two finds should help to at least keep the company's stock steady as it pursues other projects and tries to end its long-running legal battle with Spain over a half-billion-dollar gold and silver find. Odyssey is certainly one to follow, and I recommend that you add it to your watchlist.

If you're looking for more conventional silver plays, check out Fool metals guru Christopher Barker's top silver stocks, including Canadian minerAlexco Resouces (ASE: AXU) , Idahoan miner Hecla Mining (NYS: HL) , and Mexican minerGreat Panther Silver (ASE: GPL) . Or click here to get our free report detailing a tiny miner digging up massive profits -- it's free.

At the time this article was published Dan Dzombakholds no position in any company mentioned.Click hereto see his holdings and a short bio. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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