Gold exploration company Newmont Mining (NEM) - Get Report is up over 40% in the past month, while the yellow metal itself is only up 10%. Dan Denbow, portfolio manager of the USAA Precious Metals and Minerals Fund (USAGX) - Get Report , said the surge in Newmont's stock is a testament to CEO Gary Goldberg's leadership during gold's downturn.
"Gary Goldberg came in and right-sized the organization and has been cutting costs," said Denbow. "He has delivered operating leverage which is why you own gold miners versus gold when you think gold is going to go up."
The USAA Precious Metals and Minerals Fund is up 26.6% thus far in 2016, according to fund-tracker Morningstar. The $563 million fund has lost an average of 2% annually over the past ten years, outpacing 67% of its Morningstar peers.
Denbow also likes Randgold Resources (GOLD) - Get Report , up 39% in the past month, saying the company's CEO Dennis Bristow likes to operate in difficult African locations, but is able to pull it off.
"He is the one CEO you can trust to do it," said Denbow. "It always looks a little expensive, but you have to trust that he will continue to deliver. He builds the company to operate on $1,000 an ounce gold, so when gold prices rise he is going to do even better."
He is positive on Tahoe Resources (TAHO) , up 33% in the past month, saying the company's recent gold mine acquisition in Canada will lower the company's dependence on its Central American silver operations.
"They will benefit from the lower Canadian dollar and also give diversification for geopolitical events if the Guatemalan government decides it wants to raise royalties," said Denbow.
Denbow added that he likes Tahoe's 2.6% dividend yield because "everything that comes from the company is a good thing".
"You have to watch these smaller names, you don't want to pay too much for them, but they still have some room to run," said Denbow.