First Quarter 2020

The World Precious Minerals Fund had a total return of negative 32.33 percent in the first quarter of 2020, underperforming its benchmark, the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, which returned negative 20.01 percent. See complete fund performance here.

For the gold equities, there was a strong divergence in performance, which directly led the fund to underperform. U.S.-based Newmont Gold is the largest weighting in both the FTSE Gold Index and NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, and it was the only significant index stock to demonstrate a positive return, of just 4.50 percent for the quarter for the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, while two smaller London-listed gold mining companies also showed positive returns for the quarter in the FTSE Gold Miners Index. The mid-tiered gold miners, as measured by the NYSE Arca Junior Gold Miners Index, fell 33.51 percent for the quarter, illustrating the strong the divergence in the capitalization factor of gold mining stocks played for the quarter. Post the quarter end, the spread in this factor has started to close with the continuation of the bull market in gold and the rotation down in capitalization that investors seek for higher returns.

Past performance does not guarantee future results. Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance data quoted. The principal value and investment return of an investment will fluctuate so that your shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

Strengths

  • The largest contributor to fund performance was TriStar Gold, which gained 22.27 percent. With an average fund weighting of 9.33 percent, the company contributed 212 basis points. TriStar sold a royalty on their Brazilian gold asset to secure funding for the next two years of exploration work and the market took notice of a new asset coming into the royalty pipeline of Royal Gold, marking it an asset of interest that could come into production. TriStar is not a member of the benchmark NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index.
  • The second biggest contributor to fund performance was our zero-weighting of Newcrest Mining, with an average fund weighting of 5.14 percent in the benchmark it fell 33.39 percent, thus avoiding 107 basis points of losses. Newcrest Mining is the sixth largest member of the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index.
  • Out zero-weighting in Agnico-Eagle Mines versus the index weight of 4.50 percent helped us outperform when Agnico missed quarterly guidance after a long record of outperforming guidance. The shares finished the quarter down 35.75 percent, thus the fund made a relative gain against the index in the amount of 73 basis points. Agnico-Eagle is a member of the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index.

Weaknesses

  • The largest detractor from fund performance was its exposure to the Direxion Daily Junior Gold Miners Index 3X Bull, which fell 95.23 percent for the quarter. It has begun to rebound after the quarter, and we added it to the fund’s position, but we were marked down by 304 basis points at quarter-end.
  • The second largest detractor from fund performance was the underweighting of Newmont Mining relative to the benchmark. The company gained 4.50 percent in the quarter, and with its average weighting of 13.23 percent in the benchmark, the fund lost 274 basis points.
  • The third largest detractor from fund performance was the our exposure to the Direxion Daily Gold Miners Index 3X Bull which fell 80.48 percent for the quarter, it has begun to rebound post the quarter, but we were marked down by 209 basis points as quarter-end.

Outlook

Mergers and deals are starting to gain traction after several years of senior miners being on a “do not proceed with a purchase transaction” mantra.  Premier Gold Mines Ltd. announced that an offer has been made to acquire Centerra Gold’s 50 percent stake in the Greenstone Gold Mines Partnership in a deal worth $205 million. Argonaut Gold and Alio Gold announced that they entered into a definitive agreement for an at-market merger where Argonaut will acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Alio. Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman said in an interview at the BMO Global Metal & Mining Conference in Miami in February that the company hopes to buy a gold miner for $4 billion to $5 billion in the next six to nine months. Sibanye already has several takeover targets and met with various companies at the conference.

The coronavirus fears helped gold rally, but investors largely overlooked silver as a safe haven. With most precious metals rising, silver is the cheapest, as the ratio of gold to silver risen to as high as 100, while a ratio of 60:1 would reflect historic relationships. If the gold market continues to show strength, we expect investors to begin realizing this opportunity and show some love for the white metal and the limited numbers of companies that actually produce significant silver.

Sixth Wave Innovations, which developed disruptive molecular imprinted nanotechnology used for gold extraction, announced an agreement with Sumitomo Corporation that will greatly expand the company’s global distribution network, according to a press release. Should Sixth Wave’s technology be able to replace carbon as a means of pulling the gold from recovery process plant tanks, it potentially could yield the gold miners a $100 per ounce in costs savings. Metal Tiger is set to invest A$3.3 million into Southern Gold, an Australian and South Korean-focused gold explorer that has already made a new gold discovery within Korea. Silver Viper announced strong drill results from its La Virginia Gold-Silver project in Mexico. High grade results provided in the press release include 196 grams per ton of gold and 984 grams per ton of silver over 0.5 meters.

 

The NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index is a modified market capitalization weighted index comprised of publicly traded companies involved primarily in the mining for gold and silver. The index benchmark value was 500.0 at the close of trading on December 20, 2002. The NYSE Arca Junior Gold Indexis a modified equal dollar weighted index of small-cap companies involved in gold mining. The FTSE Gold Mines Index encompasses all gold mining companies that have a sustainable and attributable gold production of at least 300,000 ounces a year, and that derive 75% or more of their revenue from mined gold. 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). A warrant is a derivative that gives the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a security—most commonly an equity—at a certain price before expiration.

Fund portfolios are actively managed, and holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. Holdings in the World Precious Minerals Fund as a percentage of net assets as of 3/31/2020: TriStar Gold Inc. 10.68%, Royal Gold Inc. 0.00%, Newcrest Mining Ltd. 0.00%, Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. 0.00%, Direxion Daily Junior Gold Miners Index Bull 3X Shares 0.31%, Newmont Corp. 0.54%, Direxion Daily Gold Miners Index Bull 3X Shares 0.79%, Premier Gold Mines Ltd. 0.00%, Centerra Gold Inc. 0.00%, Argonaut Gold Inc. 0.00%, Alio Gold Inc. 0.00%, Sibanye-Stillwater Ltd. 0.00%, Sixth Wave Innovations Inc. 0.00%, Sumitomo Corp. 0.00%, Metal Tiger PLC 0.00%, Southern Gold Ltd. 0.00%, Silver Viper Minerals Corp. 0.00%.

Net Asset Value
as of 07/10/2020

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $4.42 0.07 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $12.22 -0.12 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $4.32 -0.03 China Region Fund USCOX $9.40 -0.10 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $5.77 0.02 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $22.74 0.07 Global Luxury Goods Fund USLUX $15.89 0.17 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.25 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 No Change