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Funds that are worth their weight in gold

FUNDS REPORTER

WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?

Precious metals funds have lost their lustre lately after being on fire for two years, but there are still plenty of gold bulls around.

Myles Zyblock, chief institutional strategist at RBC Dominion

Securities Inc., said in an investment strategy report this week that gold is in its "sixth year of a secular bull market, and if history acts as a useful guide, we could quite easily see another three to five years of solid performance from the metal."

If you have a bullish view on the yellow metal, or simply want to diversify your investments, this year could be a good entry point for the next leg up. We'll look for the best longer-term

performers in the sector.

TODAY'S SEARCH

We'll examine funds with the best five-year, compounded

annual returns. (We exclude

segregated, pooled and U.S.

dollar funds). The spot price for gold fell to $649.65 (U.S.) at the end of the second quarter from $663.79 at the end of the first quarter. It closed yesterday at $655.80.

Because the funds fluctuate along with the unpredictable gold price, we will also look at their calendar-year performance since 2002 to see how volatile the

returns can be.

SO WHAT DO WE TURN UP?

With a compounded annual

return of nearly 30 per cent over five years, AGF Precious Metals Fund run by manager Charles

Oliver sits at the top of the charts. The fund has also nicely outperformed its peers in down

markets. Until the end of June, it was up 5.87 per cent while some of its peers are in the red. AGF fund also lost the least money in 2004.

No-load bank funds have also been impressive. Interestingly, CIBC Precious Metals is run by an external fund manager and hot resource specialist Normand

Lamarche of Front Street Capital Inc., and formerly of Altamira Management Ltd. RBC Global

Precious Metals has been managed by Royal Bank's internal

manager Chris Beer since 2003.

Despite the lure of low-fee,

exchanged-traded funds, it hasn't paid off for investors. The iShares Canadian Gold Sector Index fund (TSX:XGD) run by Barclays Global Investors Canada has emerged as the second-worst performer. The fund, which historically tracked the S&P/TSX's subindex of Canadian gold stocks, switched gears last December to replicate the newly created S&P/TSX Global Gold Index. The fund now

includes eight global gold stocks in addition to 22 Canadian companies.

Returns as of Jun '07
Net assets% 5-yr%%%%%%
(as of May 2007)cmpndYTD20062005200420032002
Fund name($000s)MERreturnreturnreturnreturnreturnreturnreturn
AGF Precious Metal580,2012.6129.625.8763.9119.39-7.9564.45103.84
CIBC Precious Metals137,4342.4226.055.2058.1625.26-15.6357.9667.06
RBC Global Precious Metals682,2602.0725.92-1.9652.4025.28-17.3065.15153.11
Sentry Select Precious Metals Grwth241,0302.5123.501.9674.0435.27-11.3424.4544.42
Sprott Gold and Precious Minerals663,0072.8422.74-4.3956.1916.29-18.7672.43116.24
Dynamic Precious Metals425,7962.8821.07-1.4862.6726.26-24.4352.3381.69
Altamira Precious & Strategic Metal66,9802.6720.80-4.3242.7313.08-12.6267.0983.33
Mackenzie Univ Wld Prec Metal Class75,7542.6420.543.8953.8230.13-19.3831.3864.28
Mackenzie Univ Precious Metals414,3562.4818.772.7649.1826.84-20.5030.7889.65
TD Precious Metals199,5172.1717.24-4.6849.3926.80-15.0730.7274.29
BMO Precious Metals82,2352.3712.861.5146.8324.83-19.202.4485.06
iShares CDN Gold Sector Index923,0280.559.33-17.4340.7521.72-8.9313.8142.78
FCMI Precious Metals Fund Inc.1,4167.620.88-20.1119.8533.16-19.01-3.0919.36

SOURCE: GLOBEFUND

WHAT'S NEXT?

Active investors, who are adverse to dead money, might want to use a trading strategy for precious metals funds. Go to globefund.com, hit "top movers" and select "precious metals" in the asset class category. You will find short-term returns of less than a year in addition to longer-term returns. That can give some idea of the upward or downward momentum in the sector.

swon@globeandmail.com

© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.

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