While I'm at it with relative performances in various asset groups, herewith a chart and table of seven year performances of some gold or precious metals stocks I've owned and followed. I chose a seven year period since it covers several bull phases and one or two bear phases, if one counts the 2011-12 decline. Also GAAMCO Global Gold Natural Resources & Income Fund (GGN) began its operations seven years ago.
(Total return here means capital gains and losses with all dividends reinvested when received and no taxes deducted.)
Central Fund of Canada (CEF) is a closed-end fund that has been around for thirty years. It invests only in gold and silver bullion which is stored in allocated form in at least one Canadian bank (CIBC) vault. Their holdings are audited annually.
ASA Gold & Precious Metals Limited (ASA) is a Bermuda-registered closed-end self-directed fund with operating headquarters in California. ASA has been in operation since 1958. It holds some legacy large cap South African gold and platinum stocks but has diversified over the decades and now holds large caps from the US, Canada, Australia, and Africa.
The third closed-end fund is GGN. This fund run by Gabelli holds large cap precious metals and energy stocks and writes call options against them. This approach is used by many hedge funds and closed-ends. The object is to gain income and to buffer declines somewhat. This does, however, limit gains as stocks are called away as prices rise. All three of these closed-ends can and do trade at prices which may be higher or lower than the net asset values (NAV) of holdings. The reason is that new shares are not issued or bought back when investors buy or sell, as with ETFs, so public sentiment is a factor. As of last Thursday, March 22, 2012, CEF' closed 4.82% above NAV, ASA 6.97% below, and GGN 8.29% above. This is a good place to get basic information about specific closed-end funds.
GDX is Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF which also holds large caps like ASA and GGN. VGPMX is Vanguard Precious Metals & Mining mutual fund which has been around for decades, managed by Graham French in London.
So there is a wide range of fund types to choose from in this list. Mid cap and small cap gold stocks are represented by GDXJ and GLDX among others, but they have not been operating over a whole bull and bear cycle and are not included here.
Currently I own CEF, ASA, and VGPMX, but I have owned them all. I think they are all good assets depending upon one's purpose or bias. I also own GDXJ and GLDX as I have mentioned before. Keep in mind ALWAYS that this blog is my occasional "diary", and I am not making recommendations either for the asset classes nor the individual issues.