It is a widely held belief that shares of precious metals miners are intimately correlated to the spot prices of the metals they extract from the earth.

If only that was the case for silver miners and the corresponding exchange traded funds. The iShares Silver Trust (NYSEArca: SLV) and the ETFS Physical Silver Shares (NYSEArca: SIVR), both backed by physical holdings of the white metal, are each up more than 1% this year. However, the Global X Silvers Miners ETF (NYSEArca: SIL) and the PureFunds ISE Junior Silver Small Cap Miners/Explorers ETF (NYSEArca: SILJ) are off 5.9% and 14.7%, respectively. [Surprises From Silver ETFs]

Downtrodden silver miners could have a positive catalyst looming in the form of increased mergers and acquisitions activity.

“We believe transactions will be weighted towards additions of non-core assets from the seniors’ portfolios, to consolidation amongst names looking to increase their profile. With efforts to reduce costs seeming to plateau for some producers, producing or development stage assets that impact this area will also be sought out by potential acquirers (but harder to come by),” said Raymond James analyst Phil Russo in a note posted by Chris Dieterich of Barron’s.

The Raymond James analyst highlights Fortuna Silver Mines (NYSE: FSM), MAG Silver (NYSE: MVG) and Roxgold as potential targets while Pan American Silver (NasdaqGS: PAAS) and Tahoe Resources (NYSE: TAHO) are seen as acquirers.

Pan American Silver is the eighth-largest holding in the $171.3 million SIL at a weight of 5%. The ETF also allocates a combined 11.4% of its weight to Fortuna Silver Mines, MAG Silver and Tahoe Resources, according to Global X data.

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