Gold is up an impressive 27% so far in 2016, but gold miner funds are up multiples of that. Frank Holmes, portfolio manager for the U.S. Global Investors World Precious Minerals Fund (UNWPX) , says the miners are shining, because they have been neglected for so long.
"The miners had a four-year bear market and used the time to slash costs," says Holmes. "Now you have revenue growth and margin expansion. And oil has come down too and that's a big input for mining companies."
The U.S. Global Investors World Precious Minerals Fund is up 149% so far in 2016, according to Morningstar. The $225 million fund has returned an average of 15.5% annually over the past three years, outpacing 98% of its peers in Morningstar's equity precious metals category. The fund sports a trailing 12-month yield of 4%, according to Morningstar.
Holmes says when he evaluates mining stocks, he looks for growth on a per-share basis in a trio of value drivers: production, cash flow and reserves. We really like the structure of royalty companies as well.
"Royalty companies have a history of rewarding their investors handsomely, even during economic downturns," said Holmes. "Between 2007 and 2014, Franco-Nevada (FNV) , Silver Wheaton (SLW) and Royal Gold (RGLD) -- the Three Amigos -- had a combined dividend growth rate of 14%. Compare that to 5% growth for S&P 500 companies and between -3% and 3% for precious metals miners."
Holmes points out that gold's recent appeal stems from investors' concerns that unconventional monetary policies have not been effective at jumpstarting growth.
"Last week the Bank of England cut rates, giving gold a boost, but the gains were erased when the U.S. jobs report data came out strong," says Holmes. "Whenever gold takes a breather, it offers a buying opportunity for investors. We should also continue to experience higher gold prices due to the lack of new discoveries in gold mines."
As for seasonal trends, Holmes points out that the summer months have historically been among the weakest for gold, but some of the highest gold returns of the year have occurred in September in anticipation of Diwali and the Indian wedding season.
"Since 1970, there have been only four major gold bull markets, and the consensus among analysts in recent weeks is that we're in the early stages of a new one, with end-of-year forecasts in the $1,400-an-ounce range," says Holmes.