Gold Stocks: What to Expect in the New Year
By Frank Holmes
After three years of pain, can gold stocks break their losing streak and see a gain in 2014?
History says chances are good.
The most recent string of losses in the gold mining industry has been brutal, causing many investors to give up on the sector and sell their holdings. Since the beginning of 2011, the NYSE Arca Gold Miners, the FTSE Gold Mines, and the Philadelphia Gold & Silver Indices all declined more than 60 percent.
But ditching this sector may not be the best action to take this year because miners are approaching the historical limits of multi-year declines.
Take a look at the Philadelphia Gold & Silver Index (XAU) during prior periods of stress. While gold stocks have a history of higher volatility compared to the overall U.S. market, consecutive periods of declines are rare. In 30 years, the XAU never had a losing streak of more than three years.
(Click on images to enlarge)
In fact, there were only two previous times in these three decades in which the XAU saw a trio of losses.
One was back in the early 1990s, when the index fell 19.09 percent, 16.75 percent and 11.75 percent in 1990, 1991 and 1992, respectively.
What’s striking about this period is the incredible rebound that followed. The XAU rallied 85 percent in 1993. U.S. Global Investors’ Gold and Precious Metals Fund (USERX) climbed even more, increasing a whopping 124 percent in 1993. See recent performance of USERX.
Could we see a repeat performance?
Perhaps. A key is watching government policies, as they can be a precursor to change.
Let’s take a look at the other period of weakness. This three-year loss occurred in the late ‘90s, with a muted rebound in 1999. However, at that time, the Bank of England (BOE) was auctioning off a significant amount of its gold reserves when bullion prices were at their lowest in 20 years. From 1999 to 2002, the central bank in England sold off 400 tonnes at a value of about $3.5 billion.
If the BOE had held onto this gold, it’d be worth nearly $15.9 billion today.
Following the period when the BOE sold its gold, the XAU rebounded. While the index gained only about 6 percent in 2001, gold stocks rose 41 percent in 2002 and about 42 percent in 2003.
During this period, gold and gold stocks were again influenced by a change in government policy. In this case, the liberalization of gold purchases was occurring in China, which was positive for gold.
So what about 2014?
What catalysts could turn gold stocks around and end the losing streak? Investors have multiple possible events to choose from that could cause gold and gold companies to rally. In a recent Mineweb article, Lawrie Williams listed several:
Lawrie mentions a few downsides as well, which would result in an unprecedented fourth year of declines for gold stocks. For example, as the Federal Reserve cuts back on bond purchases, it could come “without adverse general stock market reaction.” In addition, there may continue to be improvements in the unemployment situation in the U.S. and Europe.
Ralph Aldis, portfolio manager of U.S. Global’s gold funds, the Gold and Precious Metals Fund (USERX) and the World Precious Minerals Fund (UNWPX), believes the best time to buy gold is when the market hates it. He recently talked with The Gold Report about gold, junior explorers and what investors should expect in the new year. When asked his thoughts about gold’s direction in 2014, Ralph remarked:
Read the interview here.
Jan 6, 2014
Please consider carefully a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information, obtain a fund prospectus by visiting www.usfunds.com or by calling 1-800-US-FUNDS (1-800-873-8637). Read it carefully before investing. Distributed by U.S. Global Brokerage, Inc.
Past performance does not guarantee future results.
Gold, precious metals, and precious minerals funds may be susceptible to adverse economic, political or regulatory developments due to concentrating in a single theme. The prices of gold, precious metals, and precious minerals are subject to substantial price fluctuations over short periods of time and may be affected by unpredicted international monetary and political policies. We suggest investing no more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your portfolio in these sectors.
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The NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index is a modified market capitalization weighted index comprised of publicly traded companies involved primarily in the mining for gold and silver. The index benchmark value was 500.0 at the close of trading on December 20, 2002. The FTSE Gold Mines Index Series encompasses all gold mining companies that have a sustainable and attributable gold production of at least 300,000 ounces a year, and that derive 75% or more of their revenue from mined gold. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index (XAU) is a capitalization-weighted index that includes the leading companies involved in the mining of gold and silver.