November 28, 2022

What is the Best Way to Invest in Gold?

Major Gold Mining Stock Outperforms Bullion and Gold ETFs

Investors in gold often wonder about the best way to own the precious metal.  Gold is gold but depending on the vehicle used to purchase gold, investment returns can vary dramatically.

Simply put, the three basic ways to invest in gold are gold bullion, gold bullion ETFs, and gold mining stocks.

Gold Bullion

Purchasers of gold bullion may not trust “paper gold” or they may simply appreciate the beauty of gold bars and coins.  There is an innate satisfaction in being able to physically admire and touch gold, a metal that has had value to man since before the dawn of civilization.  Paper currencies always eventually wind up worthless while gold will maintain purchasing power.  The pleasure of owning physical gold does have drawbacks, the biggest of which is security and storage.

Although gold has moved up dramatically since 2019, the current price of around $1,950 is still slightly below the record high of $2,061 reached in August 2020.

gold Technical chart [Kitco Inc.]

Gold Bullion ETFs

An easy and low-cost method for purchasing gold bullion is by investing in gold bullion ETFs.  Funds put into gold ETFs are invested in physical gold and the fund is responsible for physical security.  The largest gold ETF is the SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) which currently holds about $68 billion in assets.  The ETF has a relatively low expense ratio of 0.40%.  The GLD will closely match the move in the price of gold bullion less the expenses of running the fund.

The GLD currently trades at $181.47 slightly below its high of $190.81 reached in August 2020.

Another ETF worthy of consideration is the iShares Gold Trust (IAU) which currently trades at $36.97, holds $32 billion in physical gold and has an expense ratio of only 0.25%.

Gold Mining Stocks

Gold mining stocks are where it all starts.  Someone must undertake the expensive process of locating and mining gold ore to produce refined gold.  The profit generated by the gold mining stocks depends not only on the price of gold but also on how efficiently gold mining companies are at exploration and deploying capital.  Many junior gold mining companies have not been able to participate in price gains despite the increase in gold prices.

There are two ways to invest in gold mining companies.  An investor can invest in a basket of gold mining stocks in a mutual fund or ETF such as VanEck Gold Miners ETF (GDX) or by purchasing individual gold mining companies.  Purchasing an ETF allows an investor to spread risk across the industry.  Purchasing a successful gold mining company can result in gains that far exceed the increase in gold bullion.

For example, the GDX currently trades at $39.67, below the price reached in August 2020.

Now, look at the performance of Newmont Corporation (NEM) a major gold mining company which has recently exploded to an all-time high and up 173% since late 2019.

There is no way to know which way of investing will work out best until after it happens.  Always diversify to reduce risk is probable the best advice.

American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Sales Drop Sharply from Previous Month and Year

american-silver-eagleSales of the US Mint American Eagle silver bullion coins dropped sharply during February from both the previous month and comparable prior year period.

The US Mint reported total sales of 3,022,000 ounces during February which is down by 19.4 percent from the comparable prior year period and down by a considerable 45.4 percent from the previous month.  Due to strong January sales, however, total sales of the silver bullion coins is up slightly by 0.3 percent on the year.

There were four months during 2014 in which monthly sales of the silver bullion coins dropped below the 3 million level and yet sales hit an all time record high of 44,006,000 troy ounces.  Average monthly sales of the silver bullion coins during 2014 came in at about 3.6 million ounces per month while the average monthly sales year to date during 2015 is at 4.3 million ounces.  The silver bullion coins remain extremely popular with precious metal investors despite the decline in the price of silver since 2011.  Long term silver investors allocating a portion of their portfolio to physical precious metals view the current bargain price of silver as an opportunity to load up as evidenced by 2014 record breaking sales.

The chart below shows the trend of sales for the US Mint silver bullion coins since 2000.  Sales for 2015 are year to date through February 28, 2015.  Ever since the financial crisis when the banking system can close to completely imploding, sales of silver bullion coins have exploded by about 500 percent and remained strong despite the so called recovery in the economy and banking system.

While the sales of gold bullion coins has declined since the financial crisis, silver bullion coins remain as popular as ever with investors seeking a store of value in physical precious metals.

The price of silver has declined sharply since the highs of 2011 as investors have fled what seems like a losing proposition, especially in comparison to stocks and bonds which have been pumped up in value by the Fed’s easy money policies and zero interest rates.  Silver has seen volatile price action since the financial crisis but most investors who have made purchases since 2008 are now at about a break even price level or sitting with losses making this an interesting price juncture for silver investors.

10 year silver

Whether it be stocks, bonds, or precious metals, it is classic psychological behavior for investors to pile in at the top as prices are reaching bull market highs and then refuse to buy at the bottom when everyone is bearish.  No one can predict the timing of future price moves, but with silver prices in the bargain bin and little interest by investors, this is probably an area that deserves additional investment by long term buy and hold investors.  Silver has been considered money and a store of value throughout the ages and this is not likely to change, especially as desperate and over indebted governments rely upon printing press money from the central banks to keep the wildly over leveraged financial system from crashing again.

The sales of silver bullion coins by year since 2000 is shown below.  The figures for 2015 include year to date totals as of February month end.

American Silver Eagle Bullion Coins

               YEAR

OUNCES SOLD

2000

 9,133,000

2001

 8,827,500

2002

 10,475,500

2003

 9,153,500

2004

 9,617,000

2005

 8,405,000

2006

 10,021,000

2007

 9,887,000

2008

 19,583,500

2009

 28,766,500

2010

 34,662,500

2011

 39,868,500

2012

33,742,500

2013

42,675,000

2014

44,006,000

2015

8,552,000

             TOTAL

 327,376,000

 

American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Sales Up From Previous Year and On Track For Record Breaking 2014 Sales

silver eagleThe US Mint American Eagle silver bullion coins remain more popular with investors than ever, despite the decline in the price of silver.  Apparently there are plenty of long term silver investors who prefer to hold the physical metal and are viewing the decline in the price of silver as an opportunity to load up at bargain prices.

The latest report from the US Mint shows that November sales of the silver bullion coins totaled 3,426,000 ounces, down from the previous month but up by 1,126,000 ounces or 49% from the previous year.  October 2014 was the highest selling month of the year with total sales of 5,790,000 coins.

Sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coins year to date through November 30 now total 41,547,000, just shy of the all time record sales year of 2013 when the Mint sold 42,675,000 coins.  If December sales of the silver bullion coins surpass 1.1 million coins, which is very likely, 2014 will be another record breaking sales year.

Gold and silver investors can only shake their heads and wonder at investor confidence in central banks as an orgy of money printing continues worldwide and leveraged debt piles up at a rate and amount never seen before in history. The attitude seems to be “who cares – my stocks and bonds and real estate are going straight up.”

At some future point that no one can predict you can count on another financial accident on par or greater than that of 2008-2009 that will destroy confidence in paper money and the ability of governments to repay debt with sound money.  At that point the exchange rate between dollars and precious metals will amply reward the investors now buying bargain gold and silver.

Silver has now given back the bulk of its gains from the highs reached in early 2011 and could well go lower given the bearish sentiment and declining price pattern.

Since 2000 investors have purchased over 300 million American Eagle silver bullion coins.  Below are the sales by year with the 2014 total through November 30.

 

Gold Plunges After Swiss Voters Reject Central Bank Gold Buying

SNBGold can’t catch a break lately as Swiss Voters Reject Measure Forcing SNB to Acquire More Gold.

Swiss voters rejected a measure in a referendum requiring their central bank to hold a portion of its assets in gold, a measure its President Thomas Jordan termed an “invitation to speculators” that could have hurt the economy. Bullion tumbled to a three-week low.

The “Save Our Swiss Gold” proposal stipulating the Swiss National Bank hold at least 20 percent of its 520-billion-franc ($540 billion) balance sheet in gold and never sell any bullion was voted down by 77 percent to 23 percent, the government said yesterday. Polls had forecast the initiative’s rejection. Two other initiatives on tax privileges for foreign millionaires and immigration limits also were rejected.

SNB policy makers estimated they would have needed to buy 70 billion francs worth of gold if the referendum had passed. Some economists estimated the SNB wouldn’t have had to sell euros to meet the requirement, given its dollar holdings. At the end of the third quarter, it held 45 percent of its 460 billion francs of foreign currencies in euros and 29 percent in dollars.

Even though the Swiss gold referendum was expected to be defeated gold prices plunged by over $38 per ounce in late Sunday trading and silver was pulverized with prices down almost 8%.

As stocks and bonds continue to soar on liquidity provided by central bank quantitative easing investors have been dumping gold by the tons from their portfolios.  The Swiss Gold Rejection simply gave investors another reason to stay away from gold which has been in a vicious bear market.

Gold has lost 19 percent since peaking in March and investor holdings of exchange-traded products are near a five-year low. While prices probably won’t be affected too much by the “no” vote of the initiative called “Save Our Swiss Gold,” approval would have improved sentiment and increased prices by as much as $50 an ounce, HSBC Holdings Plc estimated in November.

“Gold had received some support in the last couple of weeks” before the vote, Georgette Boele, an analyst at ABN Amro Bank NV in Amsterdam, said by phone. “We’ll get more pressure on gold. The overall outlook is not looking great.”

2014-proof-gold-eagle

Even the surprise news that India had ended curbs on gold imports did nothing to support prices.  In a bear market all news is bad and gold can’t seem to find a support level.  The irony of it all is that the massive euro holdings of the Swiss National Bank were purchased with Swiss francs manufactured out of thin air by the SNB to prevent its currency from appreciating against the euro.  Governments world wide have turned an experiment with quantitative easing into  national policy and are churning out trillions of dollars of printed fiat currencies.  Last I heard the value of anything depreciates as the quantity increases.  Although it’s a tough market right now, long term I’m betting that it’s a smart move to have some gold on hand.

American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Sales Soar 100%

silver eagleSales of the US Mint American Eagle silver bullion coins has been extremely robust ever since the financial system can close to collapse in 2008.  Prior to the financial crisis sales of the silver bullion coins averaged about 9 million coins per year.

Over the past five years, despite the large correction in the price of silver, yearly sales of silver bullion coins have run well over 30 million coins per year with sales reaching an all time record high of almost 43 million coins in 2013.

Purchasers of physical silver bullion coins buy for the long term to diversify their wealth and hedge against ruinous monetary and fiscal policies fostered by both the government and the Federal Reserve.  While the financial system has been held together over the past five years by the Fed’s zero interest rate policy and money printing, the long term financial health of not only the United States but the world is beginning to look increasingly fragile as debt levels continue to explode world wide resulting in a financial system leveraged beyond comprehension.

Silver has dipped below $17 per ounce this year, off 13% on the year after plunging by 36% in 2013.  While this decline has obviously been painful for silver investors, it has put silver in the bargain bin and silver bullion coin investors are responding accordingly.  If silver bullion coin sales continue at the current pace, sales for all of 2014 could hit an all time high.

Courtesy: Kitco.com

Courtesy: Kitco.com

The US Mint reports that September sales of the silver bullion coins for September 2014 totaled 4,140,000 ounces, double August sales of 2,007,500 and up 37.4% from September sales of the prior year.

Due to a slump in sales during the summer months, year to date sales of silver bullion coins through September are running behind comparable prior year sales.  Year to date sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coins through September 30, 2014 totaled 32,251,000 down from 36,088,000 from the prior year.

Since 2000 investors have purchased over 300 million of the one ounce US Mint silver bullion coins as shown below.

Silver American Eagle Bullion Coin Sales in Summer Slump

silver eagleLet’s face it – no one likes to invest when prices are falling, whether it be stocks, bonds, gold, or silver.  Nonetheless, history has shown time and time again, across all asset classes, that investing after prices have collapsed and when there seems to be little reason to buy is usually the exact right time to buy.

This is something that investors in gold and silver may chose to ponder as demand for precious metals continues to decline.  The demand for both gold and silver has fallen as precious metal prices decline and investors turn to other rising asset classes such as real estate and stocks.  According to BullionVault which buys and sells physical gold and silver for its clients, precious metal demand  retreated to a four year low during August.

The weak demand for precious metals was reflected in the latest report from the US Mint which showed lower sales for both gold and silver American Eagle bullion coins (see Gold Bullion Coin Buyers Go On Strike).

Sales of the US Mint one ounce American Eagle silver bullion coins during August continued the sales slump that has lasted throughout the summer.  Although August sales of 2,007,500 coins increased slightly from sales of 1,975,000 in July, sales during August were off almost 45% from August 2013.

Sales of silver bullion coins during 2014 have declined substantially during the June to August time period compared to the prior year.  Total sales of silver bullion coins during the summer months of June through August 2014 totaled 6,674,500 ounces compared to 11,306,500 ounces during the previous year for a decline of almost 41%.

Earlier this year it appeared that the ever popular silver bullion coins would rack up another  record breaking year, above the record sales of 42,675,000 ounces during 2013.  Although sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coins have been robust during 2014, breaking last year’s record may remain an elusive goal.

Gold Bullion Coin Buyers Go On Strike – Sales Drop Again in August

1986-gold-eagleSales of the US Mint American Eagle gold bullion coins slumped again in August following the fall off in demand seen in July.   August sales of 25,000 ounces dropped by 16.6% or 5,000 ounces from July’s total of 30,000 ounces.

Although August 2014 sales of the gold bullion coins was more than double the 11,500 ounces sold in August 2013 the overall sales trend of American Eagle gold bullion coins has been in a steep slump during 2014 compared to the previous year.  Year to date sales of the gold American Eagle bullion coins as of August 31, 2014 totaled 321,000 ounces, a decline of almost 54% from comparable year sales of 691,000 ounces.

The price weakness in gold prices seen during 2013 continued this year as Gold Demand Falls 16% as Jewelry Purchases Decline 30%.

Gold demand fell 16 percent in the second quarter, led by declines in India and China, the World Gold Council said.

Global demand slipped to 963.8 metric tons from 1,148.3 tons a year earlier as jewelry purchases fell to the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2012, the London-based council said today in a report. China fell behind India as the largest consumer, with global jewelry buying dropping 30 percent and bar and coin demand down 56 percent. Mining companies hedged 50 tons as they continued selling future output.

Gold slid 28 percent in 2013, the most in three decades, as investors lost faith in the metal amid expectations U.S. policy makers would cut stimulus as the economy strengthens. Last year’s price drop spurred jewelry, coin and bar demand, particularly in China. Indian bullion buying has slowed as the government restricted imports to curb a current account deficit.

Global jewelry demand declined to 509.6 tons in the latest quarter, the least since the final three months of 2012. China’s purchases slipped 45 percent and those in India fell 18 percent, with the countries together accounting for almost 60 percent of world jewelry consumption. Buying rose 15 percent in the U.S. and 21 percent in the U.K. as consumer confidence rose, it said.

Global bar buying slumped 57 percent to 212.1 tons in the three months through June and coin demand slid 50 percent to 46.3 tons. Global consumer demand was down 42 percent to 784.9 tons, according to the report.

Total consumption in China, which overtook India as the biggest user last year, dropped 52 percent to 192.5 tons, the council said. Indian demand fell 39 percent to 204.1 tons, returning as the largest purchaser on a quarterly basis for the first time since the end of 2012.

The decline in demand for gold seems to be feeding upon itself as lower prices beget lower demand.  As gold prices climbed towards $2,000 an ounce during 2011 buyers tripped over each other to get into gold.  Ironically, buyers have now gone on strike as gold has become available at bargain prices.

The sale of gold bullion coins has been in a downward slump since 2009 when sales soared to record levels during the height of the financial meltdown.  There are many things happening in the world today that cause serious people to think that 2009 was just a warm up for what’s to come next – if this is correct, the demand for gold could turn sharply higher in a very short period of time.

Total gold bullion coin sales through August 2014 are shown below.

Based on the year to date figures, gold bullion coin sales could well end the year at about half of 2013 totals.

What’s the Difference Between Gold Cast Bars, Gold Minted Bars and Gold Bullion Coins?

2014-Australian-Kangaroo-1kg-Gold-Bullion-Coin-Obverse-SBesides offering an incredible selection of gold and silver precious metal products at fair prices, the Perth Mint excels at educating its customers.

The Perth Mint has specialized in the production of precious metal coins since 1899.  The Perth Mint operates and owns the only gold refinery in Australia and is owned by the Gold Corporation which operates under the statutory authority of the Government of Western Australia.

All gold and silver bullion coins and bars produced by the Perth Mint are available in 99.99% pure gold and are issued as legal tender in Australia.

In this week’s Bullion News, the Perth Mint explains to potential buyers the different factors to take into account when deciding whether to buy gold cast bars, gold minted bars, or gold bullion coins.

Cast Bars, Minted Bars and Bullion Coins

Gold Cast Bars

Investors seeking to pay the lowest premium over spot gold prices will typically consider purchasing gold cast bars since they have the lowest fabrication cost.  The Perth Mint warns buyers that when buying gold cast bars it is essential to make purchases from a totally trustworthy seller to ensure weight, purity and re-saleability.

The Perth Mint sells gold cast bars in 1 ounce, 2 1/2 ounce, 5 ounce, 10 ounce, 20 ounce, and 50 ounce weights.  The current markup over spot on a 1 ounce cast bar is only $35.  Investors planning to make larger purchases such as a 20 oz cast bar can pick it up for less than $100 over the current spot price of $25,633.

Gold Minted Bars

Gold minted bars are cut from rolled gold, have a better finish and appearance, and are stamped with various designs on a minting press.  I have observed while traveling that gold minted bars are extremely popular in gold and jewelry stores in China since they can be purchased in sizes as small as 0.3 grams and often come in a tamper proof security container.

The Perth Mint sells gold minted bars in 5 g, 10 g, 20 g, 1 oz, 50 g, 100 g, and 10 oz.  A one ounce gold minted bar currently sells for a premium over spot of around $44.

Gold Bullion Coins

Gold bullion coins are typically favored by many small investors since they are issued and guaranteed by governments, come in numerous sizes, are difficult to counterfeit due to their thin size, and are issued with distinctive and detailed designs which add another dimension to the desirability of owning gold.  The minting process to produce a gold bullion coin is far more complex than that for producing bars and therefore the premium over the gold spot price is significantly higher.

The Perth Mint sells gold bullion coins ranging in size from only 1/20 ounce to a massive 1 kilogram.  The one kilogram gold bullion coin currently sells for about $42,000.

A Must Buy Silver Miner That Is Adding New Reserves at Just $0.38 Per Ounce

PAAS silverSilver and gold mining stocks have been indiscriminately sold off during the correction in precious metal prices.  While the sell off has been painful for investors in precious metal mining stocks it also presents profitable opportunities.  The price of gold and silver will not remain at bargain levels forever and now is the time to establish positions in selected mining stocks that offer solid long term capital appreciation.

Investing in precious metal mining stocks has recently been a minefield for investors due to a variety of reasons including poor management decisions, overpriced acquisitions, increased production costs, increased government taxation, and falling gold and silver prices.

One silver mining stock that has rock solid finances, pays a dividend, owns substantial silver reserves, and has excellent price appreciation potential when silver prices go back up is Pan American Silver Corp (PAAS).

Although no one can predict when silver prices will head back up, both PAAS and silver appear to be forming bottoms.  Pan American Silver recently made a multi-year double bottom in the $10 per share range and silver stubbornly refuses to break below the $18 per ounce level despite wide ranging bearish commentary on the metal.

paas

Courtesy: Yahoo Finance

Courtesy: Kitco.com

Courtesy: Kitco.com

Moving beyond technical analysis there are also many fundamental factors in place that could easily send the price of PAAS to much higher levels.  Here’s my list of the top 7 reasons why now is a good time to buy the common stock of Pan American Silver.

  1. According to the company website, over the past ten years PAAS has added almost 270 million ounces of new silver reserves at a cost of just $0.38 per ounce.  The new silver reserves more than replaced the 225 million ounces of silver mined since 2004.
  2. During the first quarter of 2014 PAAS increased its silver production by 5% to 6.61 million ounces.
  3. In order to maintain a strong financial position in the face of declining silver prices PAAS implemented cost cutting measures while improving operational efficiency.  The all-in sustaining cost per silver ounce sold dropped by 20% in the first quarter of 2014 to $15.54 per ounce while cash costs dropped to $8.25 per ounce from $11.33 in the comparable prior period.
  4. Pan American Silver was just upgraded by Charles Schwab from “avoid” to “neutral” and added to the firm’s trigger stock list which identifies PAAS as a buy candidate if the price closes above $13.81.  The reasons listed by Schwab for upgrading the stock include a rising 50 and 200 day moving average which is bullish, an up/down pattern that indicates the stock is under accumulation, and a bullish trend as indicated by the moving average convergence/divergence (MACD).
  5. PAAS is in a strong financial position with ample liquidity.  As of March 31, 2014, the company held cash and short term investments of $394 million and working capital was over $680 million.
  6. The Company pays a current quarterly dividend $0.125 per share or $.50 annually which works out to an annual yield of almost 4% which is about 4% higher than what a saver can currently get from a bank due to the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policies.
  7. PAAS sells below its book value of $14.33, has only $40 million in long term debt, and generates operating cash flow of over $123 million.  The Company does not engage in price production hedging so any increases in the price of silver flow right to the bottom line.

A strong financial position, long life low cost silver reserves, a 4% annual dividend, and a currently depressed price of silver all form the perfect recipe that should make the purchase of PAAS common stock a rewarding experience.

Gold Advance Stymied by Investor Worries and High Gold Silver Ratio

feature-300x200The price of gold has held its own this year despite a long list of reasons from bearish analysts for not owning gold.  From a closing price of $1,225 at the start of the year gold has managed to eke out a small gain of 1.8% to a price of $1,247.50 at Friday’s close.  In mid March gold had reached a high of $1,385 but quickly surrendered those gains.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg several analysts listed various reasons for the unease in the gold market including:

  • selling by hedge funds
  • a lack of upward price momentum which is discouraging investors from making new purchases
  • anxiety over future gold and silver pricing as major banks drop out of the market for establishing the daily gold and silver fix price
  • the risk of a large drop in the price of gold if it breaks technical support at $1,230
  • an increase in the gold silver ratio to almost 70 from the more normal long term average of around 55 to 60.
Courtesy: stockcharts.com

Courtesy: stockcharts.com

One analyst interviewed by Bloomberg expects the gold silver ratio to converge via a drop in the price of gold, which is one possibility.  Another way in which the gold silver ratio could drop, of course, is if silver outperforms gold.  Since mid 2012 gold has outperformed silver by a relative percentage of about 17%.

gld vs slv

On an absolute basis silver has experienced a major price decline from almost $50 per ounce in March 2011 to $19.94, a price last seen in early September 2010.

slv

Is it time to buy or sell gold and silver?  Based on information from precious metal analysts, which is probably already fully discounted by the markets, the risks of buying gold and silver today are very high.  Kinda reminds me of what stock analysts were saying about buying stocks in early 2009.