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Smaller gold miners show their lustre


Precious metals funds are shining the brightest this year.

Gold futures surged this week after India bought 200 tonnes of the metal from the International Monetary Fund. Gold for December delivery hit a record high of $1,100 (U.S.) an ounce yesterday, but closed at $1,095.70 in New York.

This week, DundeeWealth Inc. chairman Ned Goodman told a group of analysts that the reaction to a potential rising gold price since 1999 has gone through disbelief, acceptance and now optimism.

"The next stage will be euphoria, leading to the mother of all bubbles," he predicted.


We checked out how precious metals funds are faring this year to Thursday. We included BMG BullionFund, which invests in gold, platinum and silver. (It is in the miscellaneous category.) U.S.-dollar and duplicate versions of the funds were excluded.


A reverse of 2008.

Active managers are leading by a wide margin compared with the iShares CDN Gold Sector exchange-traded fund (XGD), which is near the bottom with a 10-per-cent gain. Last year, this ETF was the star with a 1-per-cent return as the others fell into the red amid a global market meltdown.

This ETF holds larger miners, and is nearly 50-per-cent invested in three names: Barrick Gold Corp., Goldcorp Inc. and Newmont Mining Corp.

Now, it is funds with smaller companies that are glittering. Sentry Select Mining Opportunity Class, which is 48-per-cent invested in gold stocks and the rest in base metals, is at the top of the heap with a 118-per-cent gain this year.

And Sentry Select Precious Metals Growth has surged nearly 73 per cent. It has also posted a stunning 151-per-cent gain for the year ended Oct. 31.

Both funds are focused on small to mid-sized miners that offer potential upside from rising cash on the balance sheet and exploration success in adding to their resource base, said Kevin McLean, who runs both Sentry Select funds.

A senior miner needs a rising gold price to help its stock, he said.

"I haven't owned Barrick since 1996 ... If you buy a selection of companies that tend to rise with no help from gold, you'll find they tend to rise a lot when prices are healthy."

His winners this year have included Semafo Inc., Red Back Mining Inc. and Golden Star Resources Ltd. All three are West Africa gold miners.

"I am bullish [on gold] because of weakening supply," Mr. McLean said.

"That is the main driver of rising prices ... I have been saying for the past five years that the gold price should rise about $100 a year even if the U.S. dollar stays strong," he said. "If the U.S. dollar weakens, gold will rise faster ..."

He now expects the price of gold can rise faster than $100 per year, and "do that for several years easily ... That will be underpinned by a complete absence of central bank selling, and [also by] central bank purchases of gold."

Mr. McLean never buys bullion. "Historically, I have been able to outperform with gold or silver equities," he said.


Precious Metal Funds as of Nov. 5, 2009
(As of Oct. 2009)LatestYTD % rtnYTD % rtn% rtn% rtn as of Oct. 31, 2009
Fund name Assets ($-mil)MER(Nov. 5)(Oct. 30)20081-yr3-yr5-yr10-yr
Sentry Select Mining Opportunity Cl26.42.88118.1101.0-69.8106.6-9.2
Sprott Gold and Precious Minerals427.02.8493.279.6-49.6139.8-6.76.0
Sentry Select Precious Metals Grwth292.72.7572.656.6-37.1151.36.721.613.9
Mackenzie Univ Wld Prec Metal Class86.02.5161.751.8-45.0113.10.711.5
Mackenzie Univ Precious Metals402.22.4460.350.5-46.1106.8-0.79.517.3
IG MK Global Precious Metals Cl-A51.22.6857.548.3103.0
BMO Precious Metals77.02.3157.147.0-40.893.0-1.09.611.9
BMO GDN Precious Metals Ad Sr2.557.146.9
AGF Precious Metal538.02.5856.946.0-36.4100.43.714.319.6
TD Precious Metals226.42.1552.142.0-33.4114.13.713.215.4
CIBC Precious Metals103.32.4751.642.0-42.0103.6-
RBC Global Precious Metals767.92.0451.240.0-26.2106.26.915.823.9
Altamira Precious & Strategic Metal52.42.3548.336.5-29.4103.51.99.713.8
Claymore S&P/TSX Global Mining ETF53.346.538.9-38.851.5
Dynamic Precious Metals568.52.7545.437.3-27.6123.87.715.917.5
Middlefield Precious Metals Class1.62.4725.316.081.1
BMG BullionFund-A282.23.3119.216.0-
iShares CDN Gold Sector Index1,087.90.559.
Dynamic Strategic Gold Class*
Sprott Gold Bullion Fd-A*92.21.0-1.7
S&P/TSX Total Return27.924.8-33.015.7-
S&P/TSX Composite Index24.421.4-35.011.8-
S&P/TSX Global Gold10.22.00.366.
S&P/TSX Capped Divers Metals & Mining290.8273.2-68.4160.813.830.622.3
* Since inception date. The inception date for Dynamic Strategic Gold Class was August, 2009. The inception date for Sprott Gold Bullion was March, 2009.
Source: Globe Investor

© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.

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