Gold-Mining Investors Hit by the Jitters as Share Rally Sputters

  • RidgeWorth Investments cut holdings in gold-mining ETF by 25%
  • Rally in gold miners looks “a bit extended,” Gayle says

Fed Making Gold Investors Nervous: Dynamic Funds' Cohen

Investors in gold miners are getting cold feet.

After more than doubling in the first half, a gauge of 14 senior global gold producers had the worst quarter in a year. Investors are pouring the least money into SPDR Gold Shares this quarter since late 2015, when the largest exchange-traded fund backed by the metal saw three straight quarterly outflows.

Alan Gayle, the senior strategist at Atlanta-based RidgeWorth Investments, returned to gold miners in the first quarter, allocating five percent of his portfolio in VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF just before the ETF had its steepest quarterly rally in March since its inception a decade ago. Over the past month, Gayle said he has pared that allocation by a quarter. He wasn’t the only one.

While there’s been no drastic change in the outlook for the metal they produce, soaring valuations of miners are giving investors the jitters, with the BI Global Senior Gold Valuation Peers jumping as much as 158 percent this year. In the second quarter, investors were valuing these companies’ reserves at an average of $182 for every ounce of gold in mines, almost double their level just two quarters earlier and the highest since 2012, data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence show.

“We like the fundamental story for the gold miners both as a hedge and as a recovery story, but they did look a bit extended and started showing some softness,” Gayle said in a telephone interview this week. “That’s when we decided to take a little bit of profit off the table. We still think that the upper trend is likely to resume, which is why we still own gold miners, but we’ll wait before we put any fresh money into it.”

The BI Global Senior Gold Valuation Peer Group, a basket of 14 producers, slipped 0.9 percent in the third quarter as of 4:20 p.m. in New York, the first quarterly loss in a year. The gauge’s rise in the first half was the biggest such gain in records going back to 2005.

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Yamana Gold Inc. and Barrick Gold Corp. led declines in the index this quarter, each losing more than 15 percent in the third quarter.

Gold futures traded on the Comex in New York declined 0.3 percent in the third quarter, after climbing 25 percent in the first six months, the best first half in almost four decades.

At the end of the second quarter, miners traded at about 26 times estimated earnings, compared with 17 times for the members of the MSCI World Index of equities, and 18 times that of companies in the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index. That same quarter, fund managers including billionaire George Soros who accumulated shares of producers such as Barrick and Newmont Mining Corp. began unloading mining equities.

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