June 21, 2024

Lowering Gold Stock Portfolio Risk Through Diversification

There are numerous investment strategies available to capitalize on the gold bull market.  Gold investors have the option of investing in gold bullion, gold coins, gold ETFs, gold mutual funds and individual gold mining stocks.

Although many gold investors prefer to exclusively hold physical gold, diversifying into selected gold stocks can dramatically increase total returns.  Although gold stocks as a group have recently underperformed bullion, selected gold stocks have outperformed gold bullion.

Well managed gold mining companies with large ore reserves and increasing mine production have provided investment returns far in excess of the gain in gold bullion as seen below with the examples of Randgold Resources (GOLD) and Gold Resource Corp (GORO).  Both of these gold mining companies have vastly outperformed gold bullion when compared to the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) which tracks the price of gold bullion.

GORO, GOLD vs GLD - Courtesy yahoo.com

Selecting the gold stock that will outperform bullion is difficult, however, as seen by the lagging performance of the PHLX Gold/Silver Sector (XAU) when compared to the GLD.  The XAU Gold/Silver Sector is a broad based index of sixteen large precious metal mining companies.  The GLD has outperformed the XAU by three times since 2009.

GLD vs XAU - courtesy yahoo.com

 

As with any stock portfolio, diversification is required into order to avoid the risk of under performance.  An example of the risk of holding a gold portfolio with only a small number of stocks was seen today when the price of Nevsun Resources (NSU) collapsed by almost 31% after the company unexpectedly announced that gold production will plunge by nearly half in 2012 due to a reduction in estimated gold reserves.

Since selecting individual gold stocks can be a daunting task for investors, a better alternative would be to invest in an actively managed gold stock mutual fund with a proven record of superior investment returns.  Past performance has shown that an actively managed gold stock mutual fund has outperformed passively managed gold index funds.

One gold fund that should top the list for investors to consider is the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), run by legendary gold investor John Hathaway.  The Tocqueville Gold Fund has a remarkable average annual return over the past ten years of 23.3%, almost double the gain in the Philadelphia Gold/Silver Index.

courtesy yahoo.com

Although gold bullion has outperformed gold stocks since 2008, Mr. Hathaway’s outlook for gold remains extremely bullish and he expects that as gold continues to increase in price, gold stocks should once again outperform the returns of gold bullion.  In his latest Investment Update, here is what Mr. Hathaway had to say.

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.

There’s No Reason Gold Stocks Should Be So Cheap – Newmont Mining On The Bargain Rack

Over the past five years, gold bullion has dramatically outperformed the average gold stock.  Reasons why bullion has outperformed gold stocks include an investor preference for physical gold and the inability of gold miners to produce earnings gains commensurate with the increase in the price of gold.

The end result of investor aversion to gold stocks has resulted in many quality gold stocks, such as Newmont Mining (NEM), winding up on the bargain rack.  Newmont Mining is one of the world’s largest gold producers that has positioned itself for profitable growth after restructuring its operations.  Newmont Mining management is forecasting a 35% increase in gold production to 7 million ounces annually over the next six years.

Revenue growth at Newmont has grown by 10% annually over the past 10 years.  Earnings per share increased from $.45 per share in 2002 to $4.68 per share in 2010.  For the year ending December 31, 2010, gross margins hit a record 61%, cash holdings increased to $4.1 billion and revenues climbed by 23% to $9.5 billion.  Newmont Mining has a dividend yield of 2.3% with a very low payout ratio of 18% and is committed to increasing the dividend in line with the increase in the price of gold.  Newmont’s total proven and probably gold reserves of 93.5 million ounces are valued at only $285 per share.

Newmont Mining - courtesy yahoo finance

 

In this week’s Barron’s Roundtable, analyst Fred Hickey talks about Newmont Mining and why he is bullish on gold.

Hickey: Newmont Mining [NEM], which I recommended last year, outperformed. [The stock rose 5.5% through Dec. 30.] The driver is gross margin expansion. Gold prices are up by a factor of six through this bull market, yet costs have roughly doubled. The company has had tremendous cash flow, leading to dividend increases. Newmont has tied its dividend policy to the gold price. If the price rises, you are guaranteed more dividends. The money won’t be wasted on bad acquisitions. In 2008 Newmont earned under $2 a share. It could earn $4.82 for 2011, and $5.96 in 2012. There’s no reason these stocks should be so cheap.

As Felix has said, owning physical gold is important. In addition, you can own gold through exchange-traded funds, such as the GLD [ SPDR Gold Shares]. They are audited. The U.S. government’s gold holdings haven’t been independently audited in decades. The GLD charges fees of 0.40% of assets. The IAU, or iShares Gold Trust, charges only 0.25% of assets. It trades for about a hundredth of the price of gold, so it is selling for $15.76 a share. It has been around since 2005 and has $9 billion in assets and 171 tons of gold. It stores its gold in vaults around the world. Last year I recommended stocks. This year I like the GDX, or Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF. It gives you diversification with 31 names, including a few silver stocks. Barrick Gold [ABX], Newmont and Goldcorp [GG] account for 41% of assets. At some point gold stocks will outperform bullion.

Newmont is currently selling at a steep discount to the underlying value of its gold reserves.  As the price of gold continues to rise, the stock will eventually reflect the fundamentals and could easily double from current levels.

Bearish Gold Forecasts Suggest Soaring Gold Prices In 2012

Will gold soar this year as central banks go wild with money printing?  Or will gold collapse as debt defaults overwhelm the system and propel the world economy into a deflationary black hole?

Members of this week’s Barron’s Roundtable were asked what they thought about gold.  Panel members offered their usual variety of informed opinions on what could happen to the price of gold during 2012 – here’s what they had to say.

Marc Faber, editor of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, expects massive money printing by central banks during 2012 and a continuing correction in gold prices.

The worse the news gets, the more the U.S. and the European Central Bank and China will print money.
In the past 10 years gold and silver have performed superbly. The gold price overshot on the upside when it reached $1,921 an ounce on Sept. 6. Now it is in a correction phase and could fall another $200.
It is not that the gold price will go up. It is that the value of paper money will go down. Diversification is important, and people should put 15% to 25% of their assets in gold.

Brian Rogers, Chief Investment Officer of T. Rowe Price, sees oil as a good investment but does not foresee a big rally in gold prices.

It is easier to get your arms around oil than gold in terms of the numbers and demand.  Oil is a good investment in the next few years, with optionality to the upside if something extreme happens in the Middle East. Gold is a good diversifier, but not a great way to make money.

Fred Hickey, editor of The High-Tech Strategist, predicts higher gold prices this year and views gold stocks as a relative better value than gold bullion.

Gold will rally, then have a seasonal selloff. By the end of the year it could be up 15%, as has been typical in this 11-year secular bull market for gold.
Gold stocks have been terrible. They dropped 20% last year, so that makes them a better buy relative to the price of gold. Last year I owned a lot of gold. Now I have more money in gold stocks than in physical gold or the GLD [ SPDR Gold Trust].
I own a smaller amount of exploration companies through the GDXJ [ Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners exchange-traded fund] and a larger percentage of producers.

Felix Zulauf, President of Zulauf Asset Management, sees gold prices soaring as the world economy approaches depression like conditions, forcing central banks to print money on a vast scale.

The world economy will experience a brutal slowdown. Deflationary forces are going to strengthen and commodities in general will decline. You can buy oil to hedge a decline in base metals. Gold started a cyclical correction within a secular bull market last summer. The first wave of selling is ending now. Gold has to be bought some time this year, probably in the second half, below $1,600. Then the monetary authorities will load their guns again and print more money, which will make investors buy more gold. The gold market is so tiny that when people want to shift just a small piece of their wealth into gold, the price flies to new highs.

Scott Black, President of Delphi Management, favors a modest position in gold stocks but thinks that people holding gold as a hedge against inflation are misguided.

A lot of people own gold as a hedge against inflation. I don’t see inflation in the cards in the U.S. Capacity utilization in the manufacturing sector it is only 77%. We own a couple of gold stocks but buy them as we do other stocks. We look for high returns on equity and low P/Es. We own Barrick Gold [ABX], which trades for 7.8 times this year’s expected earnings. Even absent a big upswing in gold prices, it will do well because production is growing.

Putting things into perspective, the rather lukewarm endorsement for gold by the Barron’s Roundtable should be viewed as a bullish indicator for gold prices.  The healthy and normal correction in the price of gold from the high of $1,900 in August has resulted in rampant bearishness and numerous predictions that the bull market in gold is over.  Ironically, many of the most bearish gold forecasts are coming from the same “analysts” who were predicting the end of the gold bull market multiple times over the past decade.

Bearish sentiment on gold has reached extreme levels according to the Hulbert Gold Newsletter Sentiment Indicator.  The average gold timer has thrown in the towel.  Over leveraged speculative investors panicked at the first sign of weakness in gold and sold out.  According to Hulbert, “this is building a strong foundation for a fresh assault on gold’s recent all-time high above $1,900 an ounce.”

Bearish sentiment on gold stocks has also reached extreme levels as seen by the Gold Miners Bullish Percent Index.

 

Courtesy: Stockcharts.com

After briefly falling below the 200 day moving average, gold rebounded strongly, rising from $1,598 at the start of the year to a Friday closing price of $1,635.50.  Over the past decade, the few times that gold previously fell through the 200 day moving average  set the groundwork for a major price advance.

 

Courtesy: stockcharts.com

The fundamental and technical indicators for gold remain rock solid.  Gold may very well wind up shocking the bears by outperforming every other asset class in 2012.

How Did An Investment Pro Lose Money Investing In Gold?

Despite the recent set back in gold prices due to panic selling by investors, gold has still racked up an impressive 15.7% gain with a price increase of $218 per ounce since the first of the year.  So how does a hedge fund manager with one of the best track records in the industry wind up losing over 10% on his gold portfolio?

The man who can answer this question is John Paulson, famous for his billion dollar gains betting against subprime mortgages before they collapsed in price.  Making matters even worse, the set back in Paulson’s Gold Fund, although painful, pales in comparison to losses run up by the Paulson Advantage Fund, as reported by Bloomberg.

John Paulson, the billionaire money manager mired in the worst slump of his career, lost 10.5 percent in his Gold Fund this year even as the metal heads for its 11th straight annual gain, according to people familiar with the fund’s performance.

The fund, which invests in mining stocks and other gold- related securities, remains the best performer in Paulson’s $28 billion fund family this year. His Paulson Advantage Fund, which seeks to profit from corporate events such as takeovers and bankruptcies, has fallen about 35 percent. The performance numbers for the two funds are from Dec. 28, 2010, through Dec. 20, 2011, and may not reflect returns for all shareholders, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Paulson & Co., based in New York, has lost money this year on investments including Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Sino-Forest Corp., the Chinese forestry company accused by short-seller Carson Block of overstating timberland holdings. Paulson, 56, cut the so-called net exposure in his main hedge funds to 30 percent last month and reduced bullish bets across all his funds.

Paulson’s frustrations with the losses on his gold portfolio mirrors that of other investors who have bet on gold stocks and lost despite the fact that gold bullion scored another impressive advance this year.

Paulson’s had large positions in Anglo Gold Ashanti (AU), Gold Fields Ltd (GFI), Nova Gold Resources (NG), Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM), Iamgold Corp (IAG) and Barrick Gold Corp (ABX), all of which declined.  Agnico-Eagle Mines was the worst performer with a stunning decline of over 50% on the year.

It will be interesting to see if Paulson dramatically reduces his positions in gold mining shares over the coming quarters.  Given the fact that the fundamentals for owning gold are stronger than ever and gold mining shares are deeply oversold, it would not be surprising to see Paulson actually increase his gold stock holdings.

Chinese Seek To Buy Undervalued Gold Mining Company

China has been steadily adding to its gold reserves as it attempts to diversify its huge holdings of foreign currency.  From only 395 tonnes in 1988, the Chinese central bank has increased its gold reserves to 1,054 tonnes.  As the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury debt, the Chinese have complained loudly about America’s addiction to debt and the nonstop efforts of the Federal Reserve to debase the U.S. dollar.

Besides buying ever increasing amounts of gold bullion, the Chinese have now decided to add gold mining companies to their shopping list.  Given the incredible disconnect between the market value of gold mining companies compared to the value of gold bullion, the decision to buy gold mining companies should come as no surprise.   Many gold mining stocks are selling at a substantial discount to their net asset values of proven gold reserves.

As reported by Bloomberg, China’s second largest gold producer, Shandong Gold Group Co, Hunts for Brazilian Gold Acquisition.

Jaguar Mining Inc. (JAG), which is exploring its options after receiving acquisition proposals, is proving that even a record takeover premium for a gold company can be a bargain.

Shandong Gold Group Co., owner of China’s second-largest gold producer, offered to buy Jaguar for $785 million in cash, two people familiar with the deal said Nov. 16. The $9.30-a- share bid is 77 percent more than Jaguar’s prior 20-day average, the highest premium in a cash takeover of a gold miner greater than $500 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Jaguar is still trading at a 3.5 percent discount to its net asset value, cheaper than 94 percent of comparable gold miners.

“Relative to their peers, Jaguar is trading at a pretty substantial discount,” Sachin Shah, a Jersey City, New Jersey- based special situations and merger arbitrage strategist at Tullett Prebon Plc, said in a telephone interview. “Even a $9.30 offer may be undervaluing the company. They could actually get a longer-term value asset at a cheap price. It’s the Brazilian assets that make Jaguar so appealing.”

After closing at $7.80 in New York on Nov. 16, Jaguar fell 3.5 percent yesterday to $7.53. The company is trading at 0.97 times its net asset value of $7.80 a share, based on the average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That means it’s still cheaper than 16 of 17 other gold companies with similarly sized mines, the data show. Jaguar’s rivals are worth an average of 1.8 times the value of their underlying assets.

“The stock has lagged the group and generally underperformed, and as a result the company was ripe for the picking,” Mark Kellstrom, a senior partner at Summit, New Jersey-based Strategic Energy Research and Capital LLC, which focuses on energy and natural resources, said in a phone interview. “For a purchaser like Shandong, there’s a real opportunity here to buy gold reserves at cheaper valuations, improve the operating results and therefore reap a nice return.”

It was simply a matter of time before cheap gold mining companies became acquisition targets.  Gold mining companies have lagged far behind the gains of gold bullion and are selling at huge discounts to the value of their gold reserves.  A look at the comparative performance of the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) to the PHLX Gold/Silver Index (XAU) shows that since 2008, gold has returned approximately 200% compared to a return of only 50% for the XAU.

The fundamental appeal of gold mining stocks is further bolstered by increasing demand for gold bullion.  The Gold Demand Trends released by the World Gold Council shows that global demand for gold increased by 6% in the third quarter.

 

Courtesy yahoo finance

Despite the recent volatility in gold prices, the long term fundamental case for gold remains intact and, in fact, grows stronger by the day as one sovereign nation after another stares into the abyss of debt default.  The move by the Chinese to acquire Jaguar Mining could be the spark that sets off a stampede to acquire undervalued gold mining companies.

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.

 

 

Gold Mining Stocks Break Out To New Highs; 3 Gold Stocks That Should Double

The divergence between the performance of gold bullion and gold stocks seems to be coming to an end.  Both the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) and the Gold Bugs Index ($HUI) have broken out to new highs as investors move into undervalued gold mining shares.

 

During the initial stages of the gold bull market,gold stocks significantly outperformed gold bullion.  From October of 2000 to June of 2008 gold stocks, as measured by the PHLX Gold/Silver Index (XAU), rose 345% compared to a gain of 252% for gold bullion.

Since 2008 gold stocks have significantly underperformed bullion as gold prices increased by over $1,000 per ounce.    As a result, many gold stocks are selling at bargain prices based on increased earnings and the value of proven gold reserves.

Investors have a wide variety of options for investing in gold mining shares including ETFs and gold stock mutual funds.  One of the best performing gold funds is the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX) run by John Hathaway.  TGLDX has achieved an average annual return of 26% over the past 10 years.   An investment of $10,000 in the Tocqueville Gold Fund made in June 2001 was worth $102,929 as of June 2011.

For investors who prefer to invest in individual gold mining shares, here’s a short list of three gold mining stocks that could easily double in price.

Newmont Mining (NEM) is a large cap gold mining company with proven and probable gold reserves of 93.5 million ounces.  NEM has a strong balance sheet, is forecasting an increase in gold production of 35% over the next six years and pays a cash dividend of 50 cents per share (see A Large Cap Gold Stock That Could Double in Price). NEM hit a new all time high today.

Kinross Gold (KGC) is selling at a large discount to the value of its gold reserves.  One value investor is forecasting a price target of $27 per share (see How Patient Investors Can Buy Gold At $250 Per Ounce).  KGC closed Thursday at $18.18, up $0.40.

Richmont Mines (RIC) is a junior gold producer.  Earnings for the second quarter of 2011 increased from $0.01 per share to $0.16 per share compared to the prior year.  RIC hit a new high of $12.03 at yesterday’s close.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Have SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) Holdings Dropped As Gold Soars?

The SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) reported that holdings of gold bullion remained unchanged from the previous week, after dropping by 39.67 tonnes for the week ending August 24th.

On a year to date basis, GLD gold holdings have declined by 48.41 tonnes as the price of gold has increased by $425 (30.6%) from the first of the year.  Why would the GLD show a decline in gold holdings as the price of gold has soared?   Even more interesting, the GLD reached a record high of gold holdings on June 29, 2010 when it held 1,320.47 tonnes and gold was selling at $1,234.50.  From June 29, 2010, while gold has soared by $579 per ounce, the GLD has actually seen a decline in gold holdings of 88.16 tonnes.

The decline of gold holdings by the GLD as the price of gold bullion has skyrocketed indicates that investor preference for gold investment has diversified.  The demand for physical gold has soared as the world financial system becomes more precarious with each passing day.  Confidence in paper assets is becoming more fragile as hapless central banks desperately print money and drive rates to zero in a futile attempt to restore economic growth.  Investors looking for the ultimate safe haven feel more comfortable  holding physical gold.

There have been questions raised about  the safe keeping and even the existence of the gold held by the GLD.  Although these concerns appear to be unwarranted, the financial panic of 2008 blatantly exposed the fact that even institutions considered to be rock solid wound up failing.  (Also see GATA dispatch – How exchange traded fund GLD lets you pretend to own gold).

The SPDR website stresses that the gold with the SPDR Trust is deposited in an allocated account.  According to the SPDR Gold Trust,  “An allocated account is an account with a bullion dealer, which may also be a bank, to which individually identified gold bars owned by the account holder are credited.  The account holder has full ownership of the gold bars and, except as instructed by the account holder, the bullion dealer may not trade, lease or lend the bars.”

Another reason why the GLD gold holdings have not expanded is competition from numerous other gold trusts such as the Sprott Physical Gold Trust which has advantages over the SPDR Gold Trust.

In addition, the shares of many gold mining companies are selling at extreme discounts and investors may be moving funds from gold trusts such as the GLD into mining shares (see Gold Shares Are Positioned For Explosive Move Up).

The GLD currently holds 39.6 million ounces of gold valued at $71.8 billion.

Meanwhile, the case for holding gold grows stronger as concerns about the stability of the world financial system continue to increase.

The Wall Street Journal disclosed today that Goldman Sachs, in a confidential report, estimates that European banks will need as much as $1 trillion in additional capital and that the current situation in world markets is similar to those that preceded the 2008 financial panic.

According to the Wall Street Journal, strategist Alan Brazil of Goldman told clients “Here we go again.  Solving a debt problem with more debt has not solved the underlying problem. In the US, Treasury debt growth financed the US consumer but has not had enough of an impact on job growth. Can the US continue to depreciate the world’s base currency?”

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

August 31-2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,232.31 00.00 -48.41
SLV 9,836.18 -89.38 -1,174.77

Holdings of the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) dropped by 89.38 tonnes this week after increasing by 109.08 tonnes for the week ending August 24th.  The SLV currently holds 313.4 million ounces of silver valued at $13 billion.

 

Gold Stocks Are Positioned For An Explosive Move Up

Historically, gold stocks have outperformed gold bullion.  Mining companies typically benefit from leveraged earning gains as gold prices rise and production costs remain stable.  Higher gross profits on each ounce of gold produced flow right to the bottom line, boasting profits and stock prices.

During the initial phase of the gold bull market, investors reaped greater profits by owning a basket of gold mining stocks as opposed to holding gold bullion.

Using the PHLX Gold/Silver Index (XAU) as a proxy for mining stocks, the XAU significantly out performed gold bullion during the initial stages of the gold bull market from 2000 through 2008.  From 43.87 in October 2000, the XAU advanced to 195.25 in June 2008 for a gain of 345%.  During that same period of time, gold rose from $264 in October 2000 to $930 in June of 2008 for a gain of 252%.

XAU GOLD/SLVER INDEX - COURTESY YAHOO FINANCE

Since 2008, however, the price correlation of gold mining stocks to gold bullion has reversed.  Despite a doubling in the price of gold since 2008, the XAU is only marginally higher at 210.93 for a very paltry gain of 8%.  An investor who was super bullish on gold since 2008 would have gained virtually nothing in mining stocks while the price of gold soared.

Investors in broadly diversified precious metal mutual funds had equally poor results.  As of June 2011, both the Vanguard and Fidelity gold mutual funds have drastically under performing gold bullion since 2008.  The Vanguard Precious Metals Fund (VGPMX) actually delivered a horrendous three year return of minus 0.46% as the price of gold soared 80%.  The only investors in gold mining stocks since 2008 who made profits were those astute enough to pick the handful of mining stocks that out performed gold bullion.

Even the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), run by legendary gold investor John Hathaway, has been unable to outperform gold bullion since 2008.

 

XAU, GLD, TGLDX - COURTESY YAHOO FINANCE

Some of the reasons for the disconnect between gold mining companies and gold bullion since 2008 include the following.

  • Investors learned the downside risks of leverage during 2008 when gold stocks got absolutely crushed while the price of gold bullion had a relatively modest decline.  As measured by the XAU, gold stocks declined by a devastating 65.7% during 2008 while gold bullion declined by only 29% from a peak of $1,011 to a low of $713.
  • A growing preference for holding physical gold and silver.
  • The realization by investors that it takes an in-depth technical knowledge of the mining industry as well as the ability to analyze financial statements to be able to pick the gold mining stock that will outperform gold bullion.
  • Gold mining companies can go bankrupt while gold bullion is eternal and will always retain a value and constitute a store of wealth.  Long time gold investors may remember stocks like Echo Bay Mines, Royal Oak Mines and many others which became worthless.
  • The introduction of gold ETFs such as the SPDR gold shares (GLD) created competition for gold mining stocks.  Before gold ETFs were established, investors who wanted exposure to the gold market without having to hold physical bullion would have had to invest in gold mining shares.  The GLD recently became the largest ETF by value with holdings of over $70 billion in gold bullion.

Investor preference for gold bullion and gold ETFs over mining stocks has created a vast pricing disparity between gold bullion and gold stocks.  High quality major gold producers with vast proven reserves of gold are now on the bargain table.  Gold stocks are selling at almost all time lows compared to gold bullion.   Two bargain gold mining stocks previously featured in goldandsilverblog.com are Newmont Mining (NEM) and Kinross Gold (KGC).  Investors in Kinross Gold, for example, are effectively buying gold at around $300 per ounce.

Markets can price stocks far below fundamental values, sometimes for an extended period of time, but ultimately the underlying value will be reasserted.  Gold mining stocks at this time represent immense value and are being steeply discounted.

What will be the trigger for an explosive move up in quality gold mining stocks?  Consider Glencore’s recent bids for nickel, coal and copper miners as reported in ft.com.

Glencore on Wednesday launched a A$268m (US$280m) bid to acquire full control of Minara Resources, an Australia-based nickel miner in which it already has a 73 per cent stake. Last month it offered $475m (£295m) to acquire one of Peru’s largest copper prospects, the Mina Justa project.

Industry executives said that Glencore’s latest target was Optimum, South Africa’s fourth largest coal exporter. The trading house is close to launching a bid for the Johannesburg-listed miner with the support of several South African partners, executives said.

Gold mining stocks have become  irresistible take over targets.  The first takeover bid for a gold mining company will trigger a buying stampede which could rapidly result in a doubling of gold stock prices from currently depressed levels.

Smart Money Investors Assess Gold Market

Given the recent extreme volatility in worldwide financial markets, Barron’s interviewed their Roundtable Panelists for an assessment on where we are headed next.   Three of the smart money investment pros interviewed gave their insights on where they think gold is headed next.

Here’s what they had to say:

1.  Investor Felix Zulauf thinks that the stock market will see new lows in the fall and that eventually both the Fed and the European Central Bank will step in to support the financial system.  Although Felix feels that providing additional liquidity is not a solution, “if we don’t do it the system will break down.”  According to Felix, at some point, as the problems get bigger, central banks may hit the panic button and wind up “like Zimbabwe”.  The increasing price of gold reflects the loss of confidence in policy makers, central banks and the currency.  Felix’s recommendation for a bleak future – “own a lot of gold, and don’t have debt.”

2.  Fred Hickey, who is editor of The High-Tech Strategist, also sees the Fed being forced to initiate more quantitative easing as economic conditions deteriorate.  The drawback of more money printing, however, is that “the Fed…can raise the nominal prices of assets – but not the real prices, because inflation will rise.”   Hickey, who owns both bullion and gold ETFs think the better play right now is in gold mining stocks since they have lagged the price increase in gold bullion.  Hickey is recommending Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM), Newmont Mining (NEM) and Yamana Gold (AUY).

3.  Marc Faber, Editor of The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, sees a short term bounce in stock prices and a possible correction in gold of $100 to $150.  After a rally off oversold levels, Marc thinks stocks will drift lower due to concerns over sovereign defaults, a dollar crisis, continued social upheaval in the Middle East and developed countries in the West, recession, lower corporate profits and the possibility of a “bust in China.”   As for the gold market, Faber remains long term bullish saying that “As long as the trio of Obama, Geithner and Bernanke are in power, gold is destined to move higher.  Long term treasuries have no value.  They will default by paying interest in a worthless currency.”

Bill Gross, head of investment firm Pimco, while not specifically addressing the gold market, is also bearish on the economic outlook for the the United States and implied that the more quantitative easing is the only option left.  According to Gross, the recent Fed announcement that it will keep interest rates at zero for another two years “indicates that monetary policy has been exhausted, while fiscal policy is hammerlocked by the results of the debt ceiling debate.”

Gold is beginning to look more and more like the only safe haven in a dangerous world.