A quickie for the gold enthusiasts to discuss today, since several folks have asked about this “special gold fund” in the last week.
And yes, it’s not a super-hard one… but it’s pretty timely, and I thought it might be worth batting it around a bit.
Here’s the snippet from Stansberry that I got from readers, I haven’t seen the actual email or ad from Stansberry on this one:
“Last week in DailyWealth Trader, Brian noted the extreme pessimism in gold stocks and their recent breakout. He recommended going long a special gold fund… It holds the 25 gold stocks that are most sensitive to changes in the gold price. It ranks them according to low debt levels and high revenue growth… And it weights those stocks based on its rankings.”
This is a new gold miners ETF that was launched by Sprott last year, Sprott Gold Miners ETF (SGDM), and it is indeed designed to focus much more on the “best” gold miners. Here’s what yours truly wrote about it back in October when I mentioned it as part of a general update for the Irregulars on some gold stocks of interest:
“For those interested in speculating on gold miners or gold equities as gold trundles along at these low prices (bottoming? I don’t like that term — it implies you know what’s going to happen in the future… but it has certainly been in a relatively tight range over the last year or so following the huge collapse in gold to the $1,200 neighborhood), I’d suggest that safer ways to play the macro trend are probably the ETFs if you don’t want to build a basket of royalty and high-quality mining stocks yourself. I particularly like the new ETF from Sprott, though it’s not really been tested yet.
“That ETF, the Sprott Gold Miners ETF (SGDM) essentially takes a basket of 25 of the large and midsize gold stocks who have historically been most influenced by gold prices (higher “beta” to gold prices), then weighting those 25 to put more into the stocks with better balance sheets and better revenue growth. This ‘active indexing’ is rebalanced quarterly, and it makes sense to me as a way to weight the better-performing and safer stocks that will react well if and when gold goes up… and yes, Franco-Nevada is the largest holding at more than 15% of the portfolio. And though it is an “active” ETF, it carries essentially the same expense ratio as the dominant gold mining index, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX).”
During those three months, SGDM and GDX have tracked pretty much identically with each other and are up about 3-4%, with the price of gold (as represented by the GLD ETF) up a little less than 2%. Since SGDM was launched in July it is ahead of GDX by about one percentage point (down only 17% versus 18% for GDX), and both are down far more than GLD (which is about 3% lower than it was six months ago). If Dailywealth Trader recommended it last week they’re probably up between 5-10% on it right now, within a few split hairs of where GDX traders would be during the same time period.
So the jury’s certainly still out, but there is almost always substantial leverage in the gold miners when the price of gold moves — so both SGDM and GDX have rocketed up over the last month (SGDM up 28%, GDX up 25%) as gold as jumped up by 5% or so. One tiny bit of evidence that their “active indexing” to choose stocks with better historic leverage to gold prices has generated some excess returns in a good month, though you wouldn’t want to write that in stone for an index that’s been around for less than a year. They have rebalanced at least once since I wrote about it in October, so Franco-Nevada is no longer the largest holding — Randgold has edged them out by a hair.
This fund should continue to be more volatile than GDX, if only because their top three holdings (Randgold, Franco-Nevada, and Goldcorp) are about 45% of the fund. The top three for GDX (Goldcorp, Barrick and Newmont) are about 25% of that fund.
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So, I’d probably still pick SGDM over GDX for gold mining exposure (I don’t own either at the moment) — but that’s slightly risky since it’s a new fund and it isn’t as diversified… and presumably, picking stocks that they expect to be more levered to gold prices means they will go down faster if gold falls sharply again (though both SGDM and GDX will stink if gold falls sharply, so that’s splitting hairs to some degree). The difference between the two has so far been slight, and the last six months indicates that it’s not likely to be worth too much time parsing the differences or worrying over which is better, but it is somewhat encouraging that SGDM has reacted well to gold’s good month. You can explore SGDM a bit on the Sprott website here if you’re curious. GDX is dramatically larger and trades with far more volume, but both have stuck to NAV as far as I’ve seen (no significant premium or discount).
Today’s move, the 5% jump in pretty much all of the gold miners, is mostly a reaction to the Swiss surprise that caused a bit of a safe-haven rush to gold in Europe and drove gold up about 3% — so whether it sticks or not is definitely an open question.
Think you’ll be best off with gold miners, with a particular gold mining ETF, or with physical ownership of the yellow stuff itself? Or perfectly happy to ignore the “barbarous relic” entirely? Let us know with a comment below.