"The incentive price analysis suggests that current PGM prices are below levels required to provide producers with an incentive to maintain the current broad base of South African PGM production, let alone plan to increase future output," HSBC writes.
"At the very least, in the current price climate no South African producer can afford to expand capacity and some may rationalize production in 2013.
"Should demand increase, producers might not be able to respond to the increased appetite for metals. This would have a commensurate bullish impact on price."
Based on Townshend's estimates, HSBC says it expects South African platinum production to fall 8% over the course of the year to c4.066moz - which provides its most compelling argument for being bullish on the sector.
Eoin Treacy's view The platinum/gold ratio
bottomed in 2012 near 0.86 and has held a progression of higher reaction lows
since August. It pushed back above parity in January and will need to hold above
that level if medium-term potential for continued platinum outperformance is
to be given the benefit of the doubt.
Potential supply disruptions have helped cushion platinum as it continues to range mostly above $1400. However it will need to hold above the lows near $1355 if the medium-term bullish hypothesis is to remain credible.