BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Standard & Poor's is recommending gold and gold miners as top investment picks only days after downgrading U.S. Treasuries, which sparked a firestorm in financial markets worldwide that boosted the price of the precious metal.S&P's Equity Research Services unit made the recommendation Wednesday. It is independent of the firm's Ratings Services division, which lowered its long-term credit rating on the nation's debt to AA-plus from triple-A with a long-term negative outlook Friday.
Newmont Mining ( NEM), the world's second-largest gold producer, has a mine-acquisition strategy similar to Barrick's. In April, it fortuitously announced a comprehensive plan for the development of its current global portfolio of assets that would increase annual gold production to about 7 million ounces. But Newmont missed analysts' second-quarter earnings estimates, which prompted S&P to lower its 12-month target price on the stock to $67 from $75 and trim its 2011 and 2012 estimates. Nevertheless, Larkin says he thinks the shares remain attractively valued since they sell at 12.5 times his 2012 earnings per share estimate and carry a dividend yield of 2.1%. Newmont has a market value of $28 billion. Its shares are up 2.5% in the past three months, but are down 1.6% this year. Over the past 10 years, it has an average annualized return of 11.5% versus the S&P's 1.3% gain.