December 7, 2022

Gold Stocks Remain Frozen In Time

Investors in gold mining stocks have had a tough five years.  Since 2008, the price of most gold stocks have remained frozen in time even as gold bullion has doubled in price.  Is the disparity in price performance between gold stocks and gold bullion a bullish set up or another false dawn for gold stock investors?

Gold - courtesy kitco.com

The PHLX Gold and Silver Index (XAU), which is comprised of 16 major gold and silver producers, is no higher than it was during the last quarter of 2007.   The large cap gold stocks represented by the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) have shared the same fate with no gain for the past five years.

GDX - courtesy yahoo.com

Beginning in 2011, the divergence between the price of gold bullion and gold stocks has widened even further.  Comparing the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) to the PHLX Gold and Silver Index, we see that gold has dramatically outperformed gold stocks by a factor of five since early 2007.

XAU vs GLD - courtesy bigcharts.com

At this point, gold stocks are incredibly oversold and, in addition, represent sound fundamental value based on the price of gold bullion.  Given the notorious volatility of gold stocks, a move by gold above its high of last year could be the spark that ignites a huge rally in the gold stocks.

John Hathaway of the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), who has produced fabulous investment returns over the past decade, had this to say in his latest Investment Update.

Gold and gold stocks appear to be bottoming in the wake of a four month correction which began in mid -August when the metal peaked at $1900/oz. Bearish sentiment is at extremes not seen in many years. This and a number of other indicators, such as stocks that have been hit by negative sentiment, the downtrend in gold prices since August, and tax loss selling, support our view that a rally lies ahead. This very bullish market set-up, in our opinion, mirrors the extraordinary investment opportunity of the despondent year end in 2007. Even though gold prices have been declining for several months, they finished the year with substantial gains. This suggests that the value represented by gold mining equities held in our portfolio could be extraordinary.

Disarray in Europe is, in our opinion, a slow motion version of the global market meltdown in 2007. It appears to us that the U.S. Fed is once again acting as the lender of last resort to European central banks in their efforts to save the euro. As in 2007, U.S. sovereign credit will be substituted for failing credits, in this case, peripheral European states. The fig leaf to justify such action on the Fed’s part is sado-fiscalism, or extreme austerity packages administered by technocrats. Tough restraints on profligate public spending, which has become a way of life in all Western democracies, will not go down easily. These measures are deflationary and will be ultimately met by howls of protests from mobs demanding renewed money printing and deficit spending. In our opinion, the fundamentals for gold are stronger than ever because the outlook for paper currencies is dire. The difficult correction of the last four months has shaken out all but the strongest holders, a perfect set-up for advances to new all-time highs in 2012.

Over the past ten years the Tocqueville Gold Fund has had an average annual return of 24%, far exceeding the 3% return by the S&P500.   The top ten holdings and percent of total assets of the Tocqueville Fund are listed below.

TGLDX Holdings

Gold Stocks Vastly Outperform Gold On The Week – Will The Trend Continue?

For the week ending October 14, gold continued to rally, gaining $26 on the week to $1,678.00 as measured by the closing London PM Fix Price.

Gold stocks, by comparison,  dramatically outperformed the gain in bullion by almost fourfold.  In order to get a broad based assessment of relative performance, gold was compared to the XAU, GDXJ and TGLDX.

The XAU or Philadelphia Gold/Silver Sector is a broad based index of sixteen large precious metal mining companies, the GDXJ or Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners tracks small and medium cap gold and silver miners and the TGLDX  or Tocqueville Gold Fund is a diversified gold stock fund with one of the best track records in the industry.

A summary of gold compared to the XAU, GDXJ and TGLDX for the one week period ending October 14th is shown below.

WEEK ENDING OCT 14, 2011
% GAIN OR (LOSS)
GOLD 1.57%
XAU 5.51%
GDXJ 6.85%
TGLDX 5.68%

One week does not ensure that a trend will continue but the gold stocks have long been under priced in relationship to gold bullion. Eventually, this pricing disparity will converge. Throughout 2011, gold stocks underperformed gold as can be seen by comparing the performance of gold to the XAU.

 

XAU VS GOLD - courtesy stockcharts.com

The Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), run by legendary gold investor John Hathaway, has vastly outperformed the S&P, the XAU and gold bullion over the past decade with an average annual return of over 26%.  This is what John Hathaway had to say about the long term performance of gold stocks in his first half investment update for the Gold Fund.

During the 1st half of 2011, gold shares lagged the gold price. Bullion rose 5.56% while the XAU benchmark declined 10.57%. The Tocqueville Gold Fund declined 5.53%. This apparent disconnect is not unprecedented. For example, during the credit crisis of 2008, the XAU declined 28.54% while the price of gold rose 5.77%. Even though the gold price is the single most important fundamental determining value for gold mining shares, they often do not move in lockstep and the first half of 2011 is one such example. In 2010, gold shares performed particularly well and the XAU rose 34.67% while the metal rose 29.52%. In our opinion, the relative underperformance of gold shares during the first six months of this year represented a healthy and necessary consolidation. The Tocqueville Gold Fund owns physical bullion but is much more heavily weighted to gold mining stocks, as has been the case over the past ten years.
We believe that there is significant performance catch up potential ahead for gold mining shares relative to bullion. Earnings reports for the quarter just completed should be exceptionally strong for all producers and in most cases surpass all- time records. We expect such results to be accompanied by numerous announcements of dividend hikes. Should gold prices maintain or exceed the $1500 level, skeptical investors will become more willing to normalize the earnings power that is soon to be demonstrated.
The factors that drive liquid assets into gold bullion continue to flourish. Most important, negative real interest rates open the floodgates for capital to seek out the safety of gold. In addition, the never ending sagas of the Eurozone debt woes and the US debt ceiling remind investors that sovereign debt of nearly all Western democracies are not the safe havens they were once regarded. Nevertheless, while we expect bullion prices to set new highs during the second half, we believe gold mining shares will provide returns superior to the metal.

The latest report on the top ten holdings of the Tocqueville Gold Fund are shown below.