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How to Buy Gold

Stocks in this article: GOLD GLD

There are also two other ETFs to consider. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) and Market Vectors Junior (GDXJ).

The GDX is a basket of large-cap mining stocks. Its top three holdings are Barrick Gold (ABX - Get Report), Goldcorp (GG) and Newmont Mining (NEM - Get Report). The GDX is up 4.1% year to date.

Its little brother, GDXJ, is a basket of small-cap mining stocks that are in the early development stages of finding new gold. These companies generate 50% of their revenue in gold or silver, have the potential to make over 50% of their revenue in the precious metals or invest mostly in gold and silver. They all have market caps of $150 million or more and have traded at least 250,000 shares per month for six months.

Its top three U.S holdings are Coeur D'Alene Mines (CDE), Hecla Mining (HL) and New Gold (NGD). The ETF is up 6% year to date.

3. ETNs

If you want more risk, try exchange-traded notes, debt instruments that track an index. You give a bank money and, upon maturity, the bank pays you a return based on the performance of what the ETN is based on, in this case the gold futures market. Some of the more popular ones are UBS Bloomberg CMCI Gold ETN (UBG), DB Gold Double Short ETN (DZZ), DB Gold Short ETN (DGZ) and DB Gold Double Long ETN (DGP).

ETNs are like playing the futures market without buying contracts on the Comex. ETNs are flexible, and an investor can trade them long or short, but there is no principle protection. You can lose all your money.

4. Miners

A riskier way to invest in gold is through gold-mining stocks. Mining stocks can have as much as a 3-to-1 leverage to gold's spot price to the upside and downside. For example, John Embry, chief investment strategist at Sprott Asset Management, predicts that gold prices will pop 30% in six to nine months and that gold stocks could rise over 60%.

Gold miners are risky because they trade with the broader equity market. Some tips to consider when picking gold stocks are to find companies with strong production and reserve growth. Make sure they have good management and inventory supported by either buying smaller-cap companies or by maintaining consistent production. Global gold production has been declining since 2001, and big- cap miners keep their gold reserves flush by buying or partnering with small-cap companies, which are in the exploration or development stage.

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