On the ASA home page we learn that "the Company provides investors a vehicle to invest in a portfolio consisting primarily of the stocks of companies engaged in the exploration, mining or processing of gold, silver, platinum, diamonds or other precious minerals.
"It may also invest in gold, silver and platinum bullion or securities that seek to replicate the price movement of gold, silver or platinum bullion."
So investors in ASA shares get the leverage of precious metals equities and the lowered volatility of owning the bullion.
The good news for potential investors of ASA is that the current share price of $22.74 is also selling at about a 1% discount to the net asset value of the company's shares.More speculative investors may also consider deeply discounted small- to mid-tier producers of gold and silver. Two examples would be IAMgold (IAG - Get Report) -- which is currently selling at a P/E ratio of around 5 and pays a 2.6% dividend -- and Silvercorp Metals (SVM - Get Report) -- which has risen over 17% in the past week, has no debt, over $154 million in total cash, and pays a 1.7% dividend to boot. Expect plenty of volatility with precious metals and the above-mentioned companies. Seven months from now the prices of gold, silver and these companies may make today's prices look amazingly low. Disclosure: At the time of publication, Marc Courtenay was long CEF and IAG.