Nicolaus, says the only other time the discounts were close to this extreme was in 1999, whenthe gold industry was near the end of its long bear market.
John Hathaway, manager of theTocqueville Gold Fund, believes that the prices of gold mining stocks only make sense if goldwere $1,100 an ounce (it currently trades at about $1,600). While we don’t know what willhappen in the near term, there is a margin of safety in the mining shares absent a dramaticdrop in the price of gold itself.
Whatever the reason, the underperformance of the mining shares in the last 18 months hasbeen significant (see chart above). At this point, because of the price divergence, the valuationdisparity, and general capitulating sentiment, there doesn’t seem to be a case for selling miningshares. Given the valuations, we are evaluating whether it is appropriate to add to the position.The negative sentiment towards gold could continue for a time, but as economist Herbert Steincautions, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” When price divergences like thisoccur, they usually self-correct. In the interim, there is a strong case that gold mining stocks arecheap and that much bad news is priced in.In the complex world in which we live, we always want to stay focused on important factorsand do the right thing for clients. As fiduciaries and as long-term investors, we sometimes alsohave to deal with short-term adverse situations when the bigger-picture fundamentals andportfolio risks remain unchanged.We don’t especially relish owning gold as it’s unproductive and is the antithesis of financinggreat businesses and ideas. But we also accept the idea that gold is simply money, readilyexchangeable globally and a store of value that cannot be debased by governments. For thisreason we believe it continues to have a place in portfolios at the present time. Many view goldas simply an inflation hedge, but it can also be effective during unstable times or when the
Wall Street Journal
, December 12, 2012
Gold vs. Gold Miners Since September 2011
Gold (GLD)Gold Miners (GDX)