First Quarter 2021

The World Precious Minerals Fund had a total return of negative 7.79% in the first quarter of 2021, outperforming its benchmark, the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, which delivered a negative return of 9.88 percent. See complete fund performance here.

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. Performance data quoted represents past performance.

Strengths

  • The largest contributor to fund performance was Chalice Mining, which gained 31.35%. With an average fund weighting of 3.91%, the company contributed 133 basis points (bps). Chalice made a significant new nickel-platinum-palladium-copper deposit under sedimentary cover, which was proven with the drill bit. Recent new geophysical work shows the deposit has further potential to grow in size. Chalice Mining was the biggest contributor to fund performance in the first quarter. Chalice is not a member of the benchmark.
  • The second-best contributor was CopperBank Resources, which gained 144.96% for the quarter, contributing 123 bps to the fund. CopperBank is an excellent example of how a company with no revenue or operating mine can dramatically increase in price when the underlying commodity price moves. In this case, copper was up 13.38% for the quarter.
  • The third biggest contributor to fund performance was the average overweighting of cash at 3.05%. Carrying the cash in a down market buffered the fund by 57 bps.

Weaknesses

  • The largest detractor from fund performance was our underweighting of Newmont Mining, which was a 13.21% member of the benchmark. Newmont was one of the few major gold stocks to maintain a positive price gain for the quarter, meager at 1.63%, but with our underweighting this left about 147 bps of performance unfulfilled. We were also underweight Barrick Gold, the second largest company in the benchmark, which fell 12.45% thus yielding us 34 bps of relative performance.
  • The second largest detractor from fund performance was Orca Gold, which declined 41.43%. With an average weighting of 1.90% for the fund, this impacted the fund by 83 bps.
  • The third largest detractor from fund performance was our 0% ownership in Franco-Nevada Corp., which had an average 6.31% weighting in the benchmark. Its share price held its ground with an increase of just 0.25% over the quarter.  Our 0% weighting left 66 bps of relative performance unclaimed.

Outlook for Gold Equities

With the negative momentum in the gold price throughout the first quarter, exploration and development companies share prices were pushed lower as successive rallies in gold failed to make significant gains in the face of rising market interest rates. This has perhaps set the stage for the beginning of some mergers and acquisition (M&A) activity. At the start of the year, Agnico-Eagle made an all-cash bid to acquire TMAC Resources, which is debatable on its merits, but what is significant is that this transaction was followed by several other deals struck between mid-tier miners. Gran Colombia Gold is buying Gold X, and Equinox Gold acquired Premier Gold. These examples may set the stage for more deals to come together this year in the mid-tier and junior mining space.

Over the last two years, we saw the major gold miners consolidate and shed assets, but they also took some investment positions in select exploration companies. The established mining companies know that current assets of many of their junior peers are undervalued relative to the risks of making an equivalent new discovery. Many of the junior miners got cashed up in the prior quarter, and in many cases have carried out drilling plans, but are still awaiting lab assays, which are in backlog. Good exploration results are getting rewarded by the market.

We expect to see more corporate activity as we proceed through the remainder of the year. Inflation is starting to be taken more seriously and the companies are taking a more staged approach to capital expansion plans, despite the significant gains in the gold price over the last several years.

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.

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 3/31/2021: Chalice Mining Ltd. 4.68%, CopperBank Resources Corp., Newmont Corp. 0.32%, Barrick Gold Corp. 0.31%, Orca Gold Inc. 1.57%, Franco-Nevada Corp. 0.00%, Agnico Eagle Mines Inc. 0.00%, TMAC Resources Inc. 0.00%, Gran Colombia Gold Corp. 0.00%, Gold X Mining Corp. 0.00%, Equinox Gold Corp. 0.00%, Premiere Gold Mines Ltd. 0.00%.

Net Asset Value
as of 04/20/2021

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $6.49 -0.14 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $13.19 0.02 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $5.09 -0.01 China Region Fund USCOX $9.90 -0.07 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $6.23 -0.05 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $24.65 No Change Global Luxury Goods Fund USLUX $22.40 -0.30 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.25 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 No Change