While everyone is debating the future of copper, gold and silver after the dramatic mid-April sell-off and recent bounce to the upside, here’s an investible metal you seldom hear about: lead.

Lead — the stuff of auto batteries and bullets — is in vogue with the metals analysts, with a raft of bullish price projections owing to exceptionally tight supply and healthy auto sales in the U.S. and China.

All of the metals — both precious and industrial — are down substantially since the start of 2013, but lead has been one of the worst performers. As of May 13 the quote on a three-month futures contract on lead at the London Metal Exchange was $2,008 a ton, down 13.8 percent year-to-date. And yet, going into the second half, Bank of America Merrill Lynch metals strategist Michael Widmer, based in London, believes that lead has “some of the strongest fundamentals among the base metals.”

Widmer is the most bullish, predicting that lead, which has seasonal demand, will rise to $2,550 a ton during the third quarter and will drop back to $2,400 a ton during the fourth quarter. “What you find is that normally, there are two key demand seasons, winter and then summer. It has to do with very hot and very cold weather, which damages vehicle batteries,” he says, noting that auto batteries account for about 80 percent of the demand for lead. The post-summer peak is in September, “when battery producers restock,” he said, while, typically, the second quarter is the weakest.

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