Both gold and silver continue to trade well below their inflation-adjusted highs in nominal terms, and the market is now beginning to acknowledge the profit potential that precious metals equities offer at today’s bullion prices. We believe the equities will offer more upside than the bullion over time. Many of the smaller names are well priced and have momentum behind them. The prospects for gold stocks look extremely bright [for very good reasons. Let us explain.] Words: 2250
So say Eric Sprott and David Baker (www.sprott.com) in an article* which Lorimer Wilson, editor of www.munKNEE.com (Your Key to Making Money!), has further edited ([ ]), abridged (…) and reformatted below for the sake of clarity and brevity to ensure a fast and easy read. The author’s views and conclusions are unaltered and no personal comments have been included to maintain the integrity of the original article. Please note that this paragraph must be included in any article re-posting to avoid copyright infringement.
Sprott and Baker go on to say, in part:
Last week, the HUI Gold Index marked a new all-time high as it surpassed 600. Recent gold equity investors were undoubtedly happy with this move, but for longer-term holders, the recent strength is actually somewhat disappointing. If you review the chart below, you’ll notice that while the gold price has almost doubled since early 2008, the HUI Index has appreciated by a mere 22% over the same period (see Chart A).
If the HUI was justified at 500 in early ’08, it should surely be justified at 1,000 today, given the appreciation of the gold price over that time.
Why have the [gold and silver company] equities lagged [to date]?
1. the sell-side’s abysmal gold price estimates. Table 1 [below] shows the average gold price that analysts are using to value gold equities today. While the futures market is comfortably forecasting a continuation of today’s levels, the majority of sell-side analysts refuse to update their gold price estimates to reflect its recent strength. A rising gold price is normally a bad sign for the broader equity markets, and generally indicates a bearish trend. As bears ourselves, we’re completely fine with this, and invest accordingly but the sell-side has difficulty pairing bearishness with new underwriting opportunities. It doesn’t mean you have to believe their price forecasts, however.
2. gold’s volatility. The amount of paper gold and silver contracts that trade on the futures and equities exchanges still dwarf the amount of actual physical trading that takes place. Paper markets continue to set price discovery – thereby allowing for dramatic volatility with little or no influence from actual physical fundamentals. In the LBMA market, for example, market participants traded an average 19.6 million ounces of gold PER DAY in July 2011. Keep in mind that the total gold mine production in 2010, globally, was approximately 86.5 million ounces. Global gold mine production is not expected to increase significantly year-over-year, so the LBMA is essentially trading a year’s worth of production in less than a week – and this is just ONE market. When you add the COMEX futures and gold ETFs, the paper trading volume becomes absurdly high.
When price discovery is dictated by levered paper contracts with no physical backing, it’s extremely easy and relatively inexpensive to jostle the spot price around. The result for gold has been many days of extreme downside volatility, despite a strong and consistent overall upward trend. Investors don’t like volatility – and the constant whipsawing has probably kept many of them away from the gold equity sector as a result.
3. investors still remember how badly gold equities got crushed in 2008. There was a reason they sold off so aggressively however – they were the most profitable positions investors owned going into the ‘08 crisis. Gold equities had enjoyed a strong bull trend going back to 2001, with the HUI Index appreciating by 980% from its November 2000 low through to August 2008. Investor behaviour is fairly consistent – when panic hits, you sell your winning positions first.
A New Trend is Forming
1. Greater divergence between precious metals stocks and physical gold and silver has arisen in the precious metals equity market – a subtle, but plainly evident shift in recent daily performance. On Wednesday, August 10, for example, the Dow dropped 4% while gold stocks rallied 3%, for a delta of 7% on the day. That is significant outperformance, and not what we have come to expect on an equity market down day. Gold stocks, as represented by the HUI Index, also seem to be breaking away from their traditional correlation with the spot gold price. On August 29, spot gold dropped 2.16%, while the stocks fell by only 0.81%. On September 7, gold fell by 3.09%, while gold stocks rose by 0.33%. These small differences indicate a new trend forming. While gold’s daily volatility is expected to continue, we may be entering a new phase where the stocks react less harshly on gold down days, and outperform gold on days of strength.
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The gold equities’ recent divergence has played itself out even more prominently against the financials, with the HUI Index outperforming financials by a stunning 49% since the beginning of July (see Chart B below). As we wrote in “The Real Banking Crisis” two months ago, there appears to be a run on European banks, and financial stocks are reflecting that. IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, recently confirmed as much in her Jackson Hole speech, where she warned about the banks’ need for urgent recapitalization: “They must be strong enough to withstand the risks of sovereigns and weak growth. This is key to cutting the chains of contagion. If it is not addressed, we could easily see the further spread of economic weakness to core countries, or even a debilitating liquidity crisis.” Investors aren’t waiting around to see if they’ll pull it off, and as the chart below suggests, at least some of them have reinvested their former bank equity capital into the precious metals sector.
2. Greater wealth redistribution has taken place since 2000 as per Chart C [below]. Those investors who have owned precious metals equities have prospered, while those who have invested exclusively in the broader equity market or financials have little to show for it. We clearly see this trend continuing, and even accelerating, in the coming years.
In many of the funds we manage at Sprott, we’ve transitioned out of gold bullion and into gold equities to better participate in the continuation of the trend indicated above. As long-time investors in this space, we can assure you that the production growth rates will be significantly higher in the junior stocks. They continue to trade at discounted valuations, and we believe they offer the best opportunity to build exposure.
3. the market is now acknowledging the miners’ improvement in margin capture – which has occurred despite the increase in capital and operating costs (see Chart D below). We meet with a large number of gold mining management teams on a weekly basis, and based on those meetings, it appears that the average cost of producing an ounce of gold today, all in, is now around $800. At $1,200 gold, these companies can capture roughly $400 in EBITDA. At $1800 gold, however, they’re now capturing $1,000 per ounce in EBITDA – representing an increase of 150% in profit margin. That is significantly far above what any other equity sector has been able to generate over the past year.
Amazingly – despite this new reality for gold producers, we are still finding opportunities in select gold and silver mining companies that can be purchased today at 2-3 times their 2-year-out forecasted cash flow. These multiples are based on the current gold and silver spot price, and if these companies hit their production targets, and gold and silver continue their appreciation – we may discover that these stocks were trading at less than 1 times 2-year-out cash flow today. Having been in the business for many years, we can tell you that investing in a stock at 1 times 2-year-out cash flow tends to be a winning proposition – let alone in an industry that literally mines the world’s reserve currency out of the ground.
Source: BMO Capital Markets
4. gold stocks represent a bona fide growth sector in an otherwise dreadful equity market. All other equity sectors are weakening due to sovereign uncertainty and the reemergence of soundly weak economic data. The recent disconnect between gold equities and bullion isn’t new either. We’ve seen it before over the past decade, and the returns generated after previous divergences have averaged around 26% (see Table 2). Given the recent performance correlations, the HUI’s breakout above 600 and spot gold now firmly above $1600, we expect this rebound in gold equities to be prolonged and much more significant in percentage terms.
Equity investors shouldn’t let $1800 gold dissuade them from participating in precious metals equities [see article 6 below for particulars]. The world is still dramatically underexposed to gold, and we firmly believe it should represent a higher percentage of investors’ total portfolios today. The fact remains that both gold and silver continue to trade well below their inflation-adjusted highs in nominal terms, and the market is now beginning to acknowledge the profit potential that precious metals equities offer at today’s bullion prices.
We believe the equities will offer more upside than the bullion over time. Many of the smaller names are well priced and have momentum behind them. The prospects for gold stocks look extremely bright.
A tsunami doesn’t start with a bang, but with a whimper. The first sign is a little hump in the water way out in the distance that is barely notable. Anyone who catches a glimpse of it simply continues to expect the day to be the same as the last many days – calm and beautiful waters along the shore. This is the point where we are, today in the Precious Metals sector. Many have seen the little roll of water out in the distance as Gold edged up in the first move of a more parabolic slope, yet most investors are mired in the same expectations of yesterday – a return for Gold to correct down into a lower base. Our analysis based on the fractal relationship to 1979 shows, however, that the mid 900s are a realistic target for the HUI by the end of the year or early in 2012; that $52 to $56 should be achievable for silver, with $58 to $62 as real possibilities; and that Gold should go the $2250 level followed by $2500 with the potential for $3,000, or a bit higher, now on the radar screen. Let me explain why that is the case. Words: 2130
The parabolic rise in Gold and in Silver still have a very long way to go as measured directly off of the late 1970’s Charts. In fact, we expect the arithmetic ratio targets for Gold and for Silver, based on the late 1970’s rise for each, to get blown away since we are seeing a logarithmic rise in dollar inflation compared to the late 1970’s. We have just hit the point where the more parabolic rise in Gold set off the leverage for the Gold Stocks in the late 1970’s. Therefore, we expect the real parabolic PM Stock Index Bull is just now commencing. Let me explain. Words: 1769
100 of the 150 analysts who have gone public in maintaining that gold will eventually go to a parabolic peak price of at least $2,500/ozt.+ before the bubble bursts believe that gold will reach at least $5,000 per ozt. Take a look here at who is projecting what, by when. Words: 970
With gold miners, in general, so attractively valued relative to the gold bullion price, the question becomes which stocks are the most compelling and have the best leverage to robust precious metals prices…In order to find the diamonds in the rough, I use what I call “The Five M’s” for mining stocks… Market cap, Management, Money, Minerals and Mine life cycle. [Let me explain each .] Words: 1146
One market trend that seems to be attracting more and more attention is the large performance gap between gold bullion and gold stocks. The price of gold bullion has increased roughly 28 percent in 2011, while the S&P/TSX Gold Index is down [about] 1 percent. [Let me convey why that is the case.] Words: 1001
Sooner or later I think everyone will have an epiphany about money that pushes them to buy gold – even if it’s at levels that would seem expensive today. When that time comes, we won’t be focused on the price of gold but on the absolute need to acquire a more lasting asset. If I’m right, the plus $1,800/ozt. price today is not too high a price to pay. [Let me explain further.] Words: 874