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3 Ways Investors are Reaping the Gold Rally Without Physical Gold

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:50 PM
W. E. Messamore
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:50 PM
  • Spot gold set a seven-year record last week.
  • And investors can’t get their hands on physical bullion.
  • Here are three ways they’re getting exposure to the precious metal.

The spot price of gold broke $1700 USD per ounce last week, a seven-year high for the precious metal. Some analysts are eyeing $1,800 for the ounce  by year-end.

There’s also talk of gold at $2,000 , and not from tinfoil hat doomsday preppers. Bank of America analysts say it could get there in the coming months. While that would be an unusually fast ride up, it wouldn’t be unprecedented for the noble metal. And these are certainly unusual times, with some strong tailwinds for the age-old safe-haven asset .

spot gold price chart tradingview
Spot gold price chart 1998 to present. | Source: TradingView

The high degree of politiacal and economic uncertainty over the coronavirus during these already chaotic times, in addition to this year’s unprecedented monetary stimulus by central banks, is remarkably bullish for gold prices.

But as investors look to get their hands on physical bullion or coins, they’re finding rampant inventory shortages. Precious metals dealers everywhere are out of stock.

gold price bullion out of stock jmbullion
“Out of Stock” –three words appearing all over precious metals’ dealers websites these days. | Source: JM Bullion

So with less access to the metal itself, here are three ways investors are getting exposure to the precious metal without buying physical bullion or coins.

Gold Royalty and Streaming Company Shares

net income per employee franco nevada gold royalty company katusa research
Net income per employee of leading gold royalty and streaming company, Franco-Nevada, compared to four blue chip U.S. companies. | Source: Katusa Research

Precious metal royalty and streaming companies invest in mining operations in exchange for a right to royalties or streams. Royalties are a percentage of revenue or profits from the mine. Streams are a percentage of the mining operation’s production.

E.B. Tucker, director of Metalla Royalty and Streaming, says :

But right now, when you have literally no gold available… there’s not much point in chasing something… Royalty shares are really cheap. Now you might face a time when the royalty shares are expensive and the physical premiums come down. So you can play that game and then you can switch over and play the other side of it another time. That’s how I would look at this.

Precious metals investors like Tucker are keen on getting gold exposure by owning shares of publicly traded royalty companies.

Some of the largest publicly traded royalty companies are: Wheaton Precious Metals (NYSE:WPM), Franco-Nevada (NYSE: FNV) and Royal Gold (NASDAQ:RGLD).

Mining Company Stocks

Barrick Gold Corp
Barrick Gold Corp Stock (NYSE:GOLD) One Month Chart | Source: Yahoo Finance

Another way investors are getting exposure with a dearth of physical custody options is mining stocks. That’s a direct equity stake in the mining companies that get the metal out of the ground and to market.

Currently, the largest mining companies by market cap have significantly lower P/E ratios than their royalty and streaming company counterparts. Zacks Mining reports :

The Mining- Gold Industry has outperformed both the S&P 500 Index and the Basic Material sector in a year’s time. While the stocks in the industry have collectively advanced 40.7%, the S&P 500 has declined 4.6%. Meanwhile, the sector has slumped 25.8%.

Google Trends search interest in “gold mining stocks” is at levels unseen since the October 2008–the height of the financial crisis–and in 2011 when the spot price last peaked.

google trends interest over time gold mining stocks
Google Trends Interest Over Time for the search query “gold mining stocks”. | Source: Google Trends

Three of the most prominent mining stocks by market cap (and best value on the basis of P/E ratio ) are Barrick Gold Corp (NYSE:GOLD), K92 Mining Inc (CVE:KNT) and Newmont Corporation (NYSE:NEM).

Gold ETFs

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are funds that hold assets like stocks or commodities and trade on exchanges much like stocks. Gold ETFs can closely track the price of physical bullion by holding the metal or entering futures contracts. They can also give diversified exposure by holding equity in mining and royalty/streaming companies.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported :

Investors are pouring money into exchange-traded funds tracking gold amid expectations of a global recession and massive stimulus from central banks and governments.

BlackRock’s iShares Gold Trust, ticker IAU, took in $486 million on Tuesday, its largest one-day inflow on record, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The three largest such ETFs by market cap are SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD), iShares Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:IAU) and Aberdeen Standard Physical Swiss Gold Shares ETF (NYSEARCA:SGOL).