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Please note: The Frank Talk articles listed below contain historical material. The data provided was current at the time of publication. For current information regarding any of the funds mentioned in these presentations, please visit the appropriate fund performance page.

Minute with the Manager: Meet Ralph Aldis
July 18, 2018
ralph aldis portfolio manager U.S. Global Investors

Meet Ralph Aldis – one of the longest standing members of the investment team at U.S. Global Investors. Ralph is responsible for analyzing gold and precious metals stocks in his role as co-portfolio manager for the World Precious Minerals Fund (UNWPX) and the Gold and Precious Metals Fund (USERX). As part of his gold stock research and analysis, Ralph frequently meets with key players in the mining space, including company management. Whether he’s visiting a mine site in another country or speaking on a panel at a gold conference here in the states, this tacit knowledge is a crucial part of his success as a fund manager.

I invite you to learn more about Ralph’s role and hear his insights into the gold world in this short Q&A.

Where do you expect to see gold production in the next few years?

It’s possible that the U.S. could see a rise in gold output this year. China production fell last year, Australia production has been going up slightly and Russia production is somewhat flat. I think with some of the new revisions to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules, mining projects could move forward on a more known timetable. One of the things the Trump administration has been trying to do is simplify the process of obtaining a mining permit. If companies can get the permits more easily then I think we’ll see some production growth in the U.S.

What are your top three gold stock picks right now?

One of my favorite gold stocks right now is St. Barbara Ltd. The company is based in Australia and has two mining operations. It’s been hitting it out of the ballpark in terms of performance driven by strong management. The CEO came in to our office about two years ago, Bob Vassie, and the stock price was 18 cents then and today it’s 5 dollars. I think St. Barbara is consistent in terms of management and has solid execution – everything that you’d want in a gold miner. 

ralph aldis observing grade samples at the klondex mines property in nevada

Another stock I like that’s in the mid-cap space is Wesdome Gold Mines based in Canada. One of its mines that is on care and maintenance recently had phenomenal drill hits down to deeper levels. What we’ve been finding with mines in the last few years is seeking funding in order to drill deeper to find deposits. I think it will probably be one of the next take outs in Canada, in terms of someone seeking a safe jurisdiction to operate in.

A third stock I like right now that is a micro-cap is Barksdale Capital Corp., a base metals exploration company located in Arizona. Its property sits right next to Arizona Mining’s property, which was recently bought out for $1.4 billion. Right now Barksdale has a market capitalization of $30 million. This valuation difference is massive and I think someone will probably want to buy them too and develop the project, since it’s too cheap to just leave it.

Describe a memorable mining project visit.

I visited a gold discovery site in Ecuador many years ago and for this particular visit it was very difficult to reach the site. It was in the southern part of Ecuador, near the border with Peru, a previously contested area, which is why it had not been explored and discovered for some time.

We first took a commercial aircraft to Quito, then from there we took a charter aircraft to get to another location. Then we rode in a helicopter and then a canoe! We canoed for a while since the helicopter couldn’t land closer to the site due to heavy tree coverage. It was a relatively new discovery and, in fact, it’s only just now going into production 10 years after I visited it.

During the trip we were evaluating the potential of the project and its deposit size, but since there was thick jungle coverage it was difficult to assess. Often times there will be a deposit discovered with high drill grades of grams per ton, but it has to be large enough to eventually justify the capital to build an operating mine.

Get to know Portfolio Manager Ralph Aldis 28 years at U.S. Global Investors

Explore investment opportunities in gold and precious metals!

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.

Holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. The following securities mentioned in the article were held by one or more accounts managed by U.S. Global Investors as of 06/30/2018: Klondex Mines Ltd., Barksdale Capital Corp., Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd., St. Barbara Ltd.

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Oil Takes Center Stage: Commodities Halftime Report 2018
July 16, 2018

meet the top ranking commodities for the first half of 2018

Near the beginning of the year, Goldman Sachs analyst Jeffrey Currie made the case that the macro backdrop right now favored commodities in 2018. With inflation pushing prices up and world economies borrowing record amounts of capital, it was the best time “in decades,” he said, for investors to have exposure to base metals, energy and other materials.

“Commodities had a miserable year” in 2017, Currie told CNBC. “History says commodities will outperform equities this year.”

Currie’s forecast has been mostly accurate so far. Except for a rocky June, commodities have been one of the best performing asset classes in the first half of the year. From January to the end of May, the group, as measured by the Bloomberg Commodities Index, rallied close to 3 percent—170 basis points ahead of the S&P 500 Index. Advances were largely driven by crude oil, which currently seeks to close above $80 a barrel for the first time since November 2014.

Of the 14 major commodities we track at U.S. Global Investors, oil was the standout performer, gaining roughly 23 percent, followed by nickel (up 16.76 percent) and wheat (16.51 percent). You can view our always-popular, interactive Periodic Table of Commodity Returns by clicking here.

commodity returns in the first half of 2018
click to enlarge

There are a number of factors supporting oil right now, not least of which is President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal. The move has the potential to significantly curb exports out of the Middle Eastern country, responsible for about 4 percent of the world’s supply. Markets were further disrupted two weeks ago when the U.S. government warned importers to stop buying Iranian oil or face sanctions.

In addition, supply is being squeezed by worsening economic conditions in Venezuela, which sits atop the world’s largest known oilfield, and conflict in Libya, home to Africa’s largest oil reserves. On Wednesday of last week, though, Libya indicated it would resume exports from its eastern ports, which sent Brent crude down more than 2 percent.

Global Oil Consumption Blasted to New Heights

Many investors might be inclined to believe the oil rally is over, but I think we could continue to see movement to the upside on further supply restrictions and rising demand. In its June Statistical Review of World Energy, British oil and gas giant BP reports that consumption grew for the eighth straight year in 2017, climbing to 98.2 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first time ever. We would need to see growth of only 2 percent by the end of this year for demand to reach and surpass 100 million bpd—a phenomenally large sum.

This could be achieved if Chinese demand growth remains as robust as it’s been for the past decade. Consumption stood at 12.8 million bpd in 2017, a new record for the country. This figure is up 64 percent from only 7.8 million bpd in 2007.

Although China is now the world’s number one auto market in terms of sheer size, vehicle and vehicle finance penetration are still relatively low compared to the U.S., Japan, Germany and other major economies. There were about 115 vehicles per 1,000 people in 2015, according to J.D. Power, compared to the U.S. with 800 vehicles per 1,000 people. That means there’s plenty of upside potential for energy as more Chinese households are able to afford automobiles.

Speaking of autos, the excitement over electric vehicles (EVs) is helping to drive up the cost of nickel, vital in the production of lithium-ion batteries. In the first six months of the year, the price of nickel rose close to 17 percent, to $14,823 per metric ton. As impressive as that is, it’s still three and a half times below its all-time high of $54,050, set in May 2007.

Commodities Now a Buy: Goldman Sachs

As I said earlier, commodities had a rough June, falling some 3.64 percent as trade tensions between the U.S. and China escalated. This was the group’s biggest monthly slump in nearly two years, led by copper and soybeans.

goldman sachs says commodities now a buy after biggest monthly decline since 2016
click to enlarge

Goldman analysts say this has created a well-timed buying opportunity, as the selloff was overdone. According to the bank, the U.S.-China trade war impact on commodities “will be very small, with the exception of soybeans where complete rerouting of supplies is not possible.”

Goldman now forecasts a 10 percent return on commodities over the next 12 months as the U.S. dollar corrects and trade fears subside.

If you recall, I made a similar bullish call on commodities back in April after showing that, relative to equities, commodities are as cheap now as they’ve possibly ever been. They’re even cheaper than they were in 2000, before the start of the last commodities super cycle. Had you invested in a fund tracking a commodities index in 2000, you would have seen your money grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 10 percent for the next 10 years, according to Bloomberg data.

history says now might be the time to rotate into commodities
click to enlarge

Copper Demand Should Accelerate With Electric Vehicle Sales

Among the most attractive opportunities I see is copper, which rose to an 11-month high of $3.29 per pound in early June before sinking 15 percent. Like nickel, copper has benefited from the forecast that EV adoption will accelerate. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, EV sales are expected to grow from a record 1.1 million units worldwide in 2017, to 11 million in 2025, then to 30 million in 2030.

This is good news for copper. As I’ve pointed out before, EVs require three to four times as much copper as traditional gas-powered vehicles.

copper price tumbled 15 percent on trade war fears
click to enlarge

“You’re going to need a telescope to see copper prices in 2021,” Robert Friedland, billionaire founder and executive chairman of Ivanhoe Mines, told us back in January when he visited our office.

Robert’s comment might be hyperbolic, but the thing to keep in mind is that demand for the red metal is about to turn red hot.

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the links above, you will be directed to third-party websites. U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by these websites and is not responsible for their content.

Holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. The following securities mentioned in the article were held by one or more accounts managed by U.S. Global Investors as of 03/31/2018: BP, Ivanhoe Mines Ltd.

The Bloomberg Commodity Index is made up of 22 exchange-traded futures on physical commodities. The index represents 20 commodities, which are weighted to account for economic significance and market liquidity.

The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies.

A basis point, or bp, is a common unit of measure for interest rates and other percentages in finance. One basis point is equal to 1/100th of 1%, or 0.01% (0.0001).

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From Mobile Games to Smart Cities: A.I. Leads Innovation
July 9, 2018

frank holmes and gabe leydon CEO of Satori

Last week I had the privilege of meeting a young tech superstar in Palo Alto, California—Gabe Leydon, cofounder and now-former CEO of mobile game producer MZ. Previously known as Machine Zone, the Sunnyvale-based company is responsible for developing some of the highest-grossing mobile games of all time, including Game of War: Fire Age and Mobile Strike, both of which profited from high-dollar marketing campaigns worthy of some Hollywood films. You might have seen Game of War’s Super Bowl commercial featuring swimsuit model Kate Upton, or Mobile Strike’s, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Gabe, 38, oversaw the creation of these games, among others, which have generated more than a combined $6 billion in revenue in just four years—a stunning accomplishment. His company has succeeded largely by reaching traditional as well as nontraditional players of all ages. 

But MZ was only the beginning. Last month, Gabe stepped down as CEO to shift his focus to bigger and better things—cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence (AI) and his next big project, Satori.

Satori Welcomes You to the Future

An extension of MZ’s real-time streaming platform, Satori is a distributed, decentralized AI “mesh.” That probably doesn’t mean anything to you right now, but Gabe believes it could change the world in a number of ways. In short, Satori aims to aggregate the world’s public information feeds—from Twitter to weather sensors—and distribute them in easy-to-search data structures.

According to Gabe, Satori can process 500 million events per second, a computing speed that’s a little hard to fathom. Paired with the Hedera hashgraph platform, a blockchain-like distributed ledger, it will be able to “read and write the entire internet.”

I know this all sounds incredibly abstract, so let’s look at a couple of examples of what Gabe’s talking about.

gabe leydon satori could usher in the era of smart cities

For one, Satori can, in real-time, read all 110,000+ tweets that appear on Twitter every second. Not only that, it can analyze and categorize each tweet and, amazingly, translate it into 32 different languages. Let me repeat—this can all be accomplished in real-time. It’s blisteringly fast.

The technology behind the translator, by the way, was developed by MZ so gamers from all over the globe could speak to one another while storming castles in Game of War or deploying troops in Mobile Strike. No doubt you can think of dozens more applications for this technology.

Improving the World—One Parking Spot at a Time

Satori could also lead to the creation of “smart cities.” Today, each part of a city’s infrastructure is isolated, or siloed, from every other system. The traffic lights run separately from the water supply network and electrical grid, and there’s little to no communication between them to increase efficiency. With Satori, the various datasets can all be ingested and computed in one AI-powered, real-time ecosystem. As many as 500,000 live video streams—from any publicly accessible camera—can be funneled into one meta-channel.

According to Gabe, this has innumerable applications. Tired of not being able to find a parking spot downtown? With Satori and technologies like it, parking availability will be a problem of the past. Excited about self-driving cars? Without a dependable, lightning-fast distributed ledger to deliver real-time data, from weather to traffic conditions, it’s hard to imagine their success.

I sense your skepticism. But the truth is that Gabe has already demonstrated Satori’s effectiveness. Two summers ago, the city of Auckland, New Zealand, experimented with Satori, using it to monitor and analyze the movements of its 3,000 buses. This allowed the city to improve bus routes and develop new plans to increase ridership, such as dynamic pricing.

Stay Curious to Learn and Improve

I think it’s only natural for us to question the new and unfamiliar. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was famously against writing because he thought it would lead to rampant forgetfulness. In his 1854 classic Walden, Henry David Thoreau dismissed the telegraph.

“We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas,” Thoreau wrote, “but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.”

No one today has the same grievances toward written language and telecommunications because we recognize that without them, life as we know it now would be impossible. A generation or two from now, we might similarly wonder how we got by without the technologies that underlie advanced systems such as smart cities.

Curious to learn more? I urge you to watch Gabe Leydon’s presentation at the Hedera hashgraph network launch in March. Also, be sure to visit Satori’s website, where you can read about the company’s own digital token, LIT.

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

Holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. None of the securities mentioned in the article were held by any accounts managed by U.S. Global Investors as of 3/31/2018.

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Top 10 Countries with Largest Gold Reserves
July 5, 2018

Beginning in 2010, central banks around the world turned from being net sellers of gold to net buyers of gold. Last year official sector activity rose 36 percent to 366 tonnes – a substantial increase from 2016.

top 10 central banks ranked by largest gold holdings as of june 2018

The top 10 central banks with the largest gold reserves have remained mostly unchanged for the last few years. The United States holds the number one spot with over 8,000 tonnes of gold in its vaults – nearly as much as the next three countries combined. For six consecutive years the Russian Central Bank has been the largest purchaser of gold, increasing its holdings by 224 tonnes in 2017 and overtaking China to hold the fifth spot, according to the GFMS Gold Survey.

Not every central bank is a net buyer. For the second year in a row, Venezuela has been the largest seller of gold, with 25 tonnes sold last year to help pay off debt. However, gross official sector sales declined by 55 percent last year, to the lowest since 2014, indicating that central banks are happy to keep their reserves in gold, historically viewed as a safe-haven asset.

Central Banks Continue Gobbling Up Gold central bank purchases from 1997 to 2017
click to enlarge

2018 could be another strong year for central bank gold demand. According to the World Gold Council (WGC), demand in the first quarter was up 42 percent year-over-year, with purchases totaling 116.5 tonnes for the highest first quarter total since 2014. As global debt continues to skyrocket, central banks and individual investors alike might want to keep gold in their pockets, as it historically has performed well during times of economic downturn and geopolitical uncertainty.

Below are the top 10 countries with the largest gold holdings, beginning with India.

 

10. India

Tonnes: 560.3

Percent of foreign reserves: 5.5 percent

It’s no surprise that the Bank of India has one of the largest stores of gold in the world. The South Asian country, home to 1.25 billion people, is the second largest consumer of the precious metal, and is one of the most reliable drivers of global demand. India’s festival and wedding season, which runs from October to December, has historically been a huge boon to gold’s Love Trade.

Construction on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, concluded in 1604

9. Netherlands

Tonnes: 612.5

Percent of foreign reserves: 68.2 percent

The Dutch Central Bank announced that it will be moving its gold vaults from Amsterdam to Camp New Amsterdam, about an hour outside the city, citing burdensome security measures of its current location. As many others have pointed out, this seems odd, given that the bank fairly recently repatriated a large amount of its gold from the U.S.

The Gold Souk building in Beverwijk, The Netherlands, houses a marketplace for gold dealers and goldsmiths

8. Japan

Tonnes: 765.2

Percent of foreign reserves: 2.5 percent

Japan, the world’s third largest economy, is also the eighth largest hoarder of the yellow metal. Its central bank has been one of the most aggressive practitioners of quantitative easing—in January 2016, it lowered interest rates below zero—which has helped fuel demand for gold around the world.

The Gold Pavilion in Kyoto, japan, features beautiful gold-leaf coating

7. Switzerland

Tonnes: 1,040.0

Percent of foreign reserves: 5.3 percent

In seventh place is Switzerland, which actually has the world’s largest reserves of gold per capita. During World War II, the neutral country became the center of the gold trade in Europe, making transactions with both the Allies and Axis powers. Today, much of its gold trading is done with Hong Kong and China.

Credit Suisse gold bars and coins

6. China

Tonnes: 1,842.6

Percent of foreign reserves: 2.4 percent

In the summer of 2015, the People’s Bank of China began sharing its gold purchasing activity on a monthly basis for the first time since 2009. Although China comes in sixth for most gold held, the  yellow metal accounts for only a small percentage of its overall reserves – a mere 2.4 percent – the lowest of the top 10 central banks with the most gold. However, this figure is up slightly from 2.2 percent of holdings in 2016.

China is also the number one gold producing nation. What other countries are top gold producers? Find out here!

Over 2,000 ancient Buddha statues have been excavated in China

5. Russia

Tonnes: 1,909.8

Percent of foreign reserves: 17.6 percent

The Russian Central Bank has been the largest buyer of gold for the past six years and earlier this year overtook China to have the fifth largest reserves. In 2017 Russia bought 224 tonnes of bullion in an effort to diversify away from the U.S. dollar, as its relationship with the West has grown chilly since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in mid-2014. To raise the cash for these purchases, Russia sold a huge percentage of its U.S. Treasuries.

Gilded domes of the Annunciation Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

4. France

Tonnes: 2,436.0

Percent of foreign reserves: 63.9 percent

France’s central bank has sold little of its gold over the past several years, and there are calls to halt it altogether. Marine Le Pen, president of the country’s far-right National Front party, has led the charge not only to put a freeze on selling the nation’s gold but also to repatriate the entire amount from foreign vaults.

Anne of Brittany's wedding crown

3. Italy

Tonnes: 2,451.8

Percent of foreign reserves: 67.9 percent

Italy has likewise maintained the size of its reserves over the years, and it has support from European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi. The former Bank of Italy governor, when asked by a reporter in 2013 what role gold plays in a central bank’s portfolio, answered that the metal was “a reserve of safety,” adding, “it gives you a fairly good protection against fluctuations against the dollar.”

Detail of a gold lion in St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy

2. Germany

Tonnes: 3,371.0

Percent of foreign reserves: 70.6 percent

Last year Germany completed a four-year repatriation operation to move a total of 674 tonnes of gold from the Banque de France and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York back to its own vaults. First announced in 2013, the move was expected to take until 2020 to complete. Although gold demand fell last year after hitting an all-time high in 2016, this European country has seen gold investing steadily rise since the global financial crisis.

A variety of Germman coins

1. United States

Tonnes: 8,133.5

Percent of foreign reserves: 75.2 percent

With the largest official holdings in the world, the U.S. lays claim to nearly as much gold as the next three countries combined. It also has the highest gold allocation as a percentage of its foreign reserves at over 75 percent. From what we know, the majority of U.S. gold is held at Fort Knox in Kentucky, with the remainder held at the Philadelphia Mint, Denver Mint, San Francisco Assay Office and West Point Bullion Depository. Which state loves gold the most? Well, the state of Texas went so far as to create its very own Texas Bullion Depository to safeguard investors’ gold.

The US holds most of its gold at the US Bullion Reservatory at Fort Knox

Can't get enough of gold? Learn all about the yellow metal's seasonal trading patterns by downloading our free whitepaper, Gold's Love Trade, today!

gold love trade whitepaper frank holmes

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

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A Massive Windfall for China's Fast-Growing Tech Giants
July 2, 2018

massive windfall china's fast growing tech giants

Stop buying Iranian oil or face the music.

That’s the message the U.S. government shared with the world last week, giving importers until November 4 to cut their consumption of Iran’s crude to zero—or expect sanctions. The threat comes a month after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era nuclear deal.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) responded by adding more than $6 to the price of a barrel last week alone, to end above $74.

U.S. toughness on iran pushes crude above $70 a barrel
click to enlarge

Other drivers included supply disruptions in Canada and Libya, as well as a sharp, more-than-expected decline in U.S. crude inventories. Nearly 10 million barrels were drawn in the week ended June 27, the most since September 2016. Crude is now up an eye-popping 70 percent from the same time last year, contributing to the inflationary pressure that’s pushed consumer price growth to a six-year high.

And there could be more upside, should supply crunches continue along with Trump’s ongoing geopolitical efforts to isolate Tehran. Ready to see $90-a-barrel oil? That’s the forecast from Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Hootan Yazhari.

“We are in a very attractive oil price environment,” Yazhari told CNBC this week, “and our house view is that oil will hit $90 by the end of the second quarter of next year,” or 12 months from now.

Even if this prediction ends up overshooting the mark, I believe there could still be money to be made in the energy space on tightening supply and strong global demand. For more, I urge you to watch this brief video outlining the six factors that matter when picking energy stocks.

Bull Market May Have Just Hit a Trade War Wall

The U.S. market is mere days from hitting a milestone that some investors might not have anticipated in the business-friendly era of Trump. Both the S&P 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average have been stuck in correction mode since early February of this year, when inflation fears and concerns of a global trade war triggered a monster selloff.

Today marks the 100th day both indices have been in correction, and according to MarketWatch, if they stay sideways another nine trading days, it will become the longest such stretch since 1984.

Stocks managed to recover then, but as I see it, unless Trump softens his stance on trade, they will have a difficult time doing the same today. Stiff retaliatory barriers are scheduled to be raised by China, Canada and other key markets, and Canadian consumers have already started boycotting American-made goods. U.S. exports of steel, soybeans and other products are down from a year ago because of friction over the tariffs, which are essentially regulations that could jeopardize the positive work Trump has done in cutting red tape in other areas.

Below is the Dow’s performance so far this year, not including today, annotated with some key moments in the Trump trade war. I chose the Dow specifically because it includes the very largest U.S. exporters, some of which do tens of billions of dollars in sales in China alone. As the biggest U.S. exporter, Boeing delivered more than 200 aircraft to the Asian country last year, accounting for a quarter of the plane maker’s global sales. Apple generated around 20 percent of its revenue in China, or the equivalent of $44.7 billion.

key moments in trump trade war
click to enlarge

The question now is whether we’re headed for a recession, and how investors can prepare—though I believe the market is oversold, as I explain in the most recent edition of Frank Talk Live. The last nine years have been extraordinarily profitable, but every bull market must come to an end—not from age, remember, but from changes in monetary or fiscal policy.

Last week I offered one of my favorite strategies to face the next bear market with confidence. Discover what it is by clicking here.

Trade war friction has strained international relations in other ways than just trade, of course. Among those is foreign direct investment (FDI), essential for global economic growth.

Chinese FDI in the U.S. Just Fell 92 Percent

China’s tech industry is exploding. Last year, gross output value of Chinese tech firms hit 20 trillion yuan, or about $3 trillion, for the first time ever. Nine of the world’s 20 biggest tech firms now call China home, beginning with Alibaba, valued at half a trillion dollars. And for the past several years, China has filed far more patent applications than the U.S. on an annual basis. (I should point out, though, that the U.S. still has more patents overall, having just issued patent number 10 million.)

The Asian country, in fact, has more unicorns—or startups worth $1 billion or more—than any other nation on earth. Chinese unicorns account for more than half of the global total, and 66 percent in terms of valuation, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Just look at the top 10 Chinese unicorns. Ant Financial, formerly known as Alipay, ranks first with a valuation of $145 billion. That’s about twice the value of the number one U.S. unicorn, Uber.

top 10 china unicorns
click to enlarge

It’s very likely even more capital will flow into these firms this year and next. That’s because Chinese FDI in the U.S. fell an incredible 92 percent in the first half of 2018, as the government cracks down on capital flight. The decline is also likely in response to the U.S. government’s increased scrutiny of Chinese acquisitions.

chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the U.S. fell 90 percent in the first half of 2018
click to enlarge

According to economic research firm Rhodium, Chinese investors have sold $9.6 billion worth of U.S. assets, including office buildings in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles. That’s after making only $1.8 billion in investments. What this means is that the country’s net U.S. FDI is negative $7.8 billion so far this year.
And regarding a possible rebound in Chinese investment activity, “looming U.S. policies present substantial headwinds,” writes Rhodium’s director of research, Thilo Hanemann.

So where will all this capital go?

I don’t think anyone can say for sure, but my guess is that this will be a huge windfall for the already fast expanding Chinese tech industry.

Only Half of China Is Online

There are even more reasons to be optimistic about the Chinese tech industry, including the fact that only a little over half of the country’s population is online. At 772 million people, the user base is massive—more than twice the size of the entire U.S. population—but penetration is only 54.6 percent, according to UBS. That’s well behind the U.K. (94.8 percent), Japan (93.3 percent) and the U.S. (87.9 percent).

china's online universe still has room for growth
click to enlarge

This means, of course, that the country’s tech and internet industries still have much room to grow.

China is already number one in mobile payments, having surged to a whopping $9 trillion in 2016, compared to only $112 billion for the U.S. The Asian giant is rapidly becoming cashless—so much so that a friend of mine recently had a hard time using paper money to make a purchase in a Chinese convenience store. In fact, a number of unmanned, fully-automated stores—most notably BingoBox and Alibaba’s Tao Cafe—have sprung up all over the country. Transactions are made simply by scanning your smartphone on a designated counter or plate before leaving the store.

Learn more about one of the world’s fastest-growing regions by clicking here!

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 blue chip stocks that are generally leaders in their industry.

Holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. The following securities mentioned in the article were held by one or more accounts managed by U.S. Global Investors as of 3/31/2018: The Boeing Co.

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Net Asset Value
as of 07/20/2018

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $5.60 0.01 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $7.56 0.05 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $3.80 0.03 China Region Fund USCOX $10.30 0.01 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $6.74 0.04 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $25.56 -0.04 Holmes Macro Trends Fund MEGAX $19.74 -0.04 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.20 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 No Change