This morning's 13-F filings betray Soros' growing love affair with miners. Should you be looking into them too?
This morning, the market crackled with news that billionaire investor George Soros had bumped up his holdings of the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE Arca: GLD) 0.5 percent in the 4th quarter of 2010.
Color me unimpressed.
Don't get me wrong: When you hold—as Soros does—4,721,808 shares of GLD, any slight percentage change in your holdings translates into potentially huge moves for the vehicle. And since GLD, with more than $52 billion in assets under management, dominates the gold ETP scene, what happens in GLD tends to greatly influence the rest of the gold market.
But this is a nonstory. Amid European economic uncertainty and a tightening Chinese economy, Soros decides to hold onto his gold—well, it doesn't take an investing genius to make that call.
What I find far more interesting is his growing love affair with North American miners.
As Bloomberg reported earlier today, 13-F filings show that Soros hurled himself head-first into Canadian metals producers, increasing his position in Kinross Gold Corp (NYSE: KGC) and snatching up new shares of Pan American Silver Corp (Nasdaq: PAAS). (The love wasn't indiscriminate, however; Soros cut his holdings in range-trading Barrick Gold [NYSE: ABX], the world's biggest gold miner.)
The biggest surprise, however, is Soros' newfound optimism in Vancouver-based Platinum Group Metals Ltd (NYSE Amex: PLG); Soros increased his holdings from 1.5 million shares as of Sept. 30 to a whopping 12.7 million shares as of Dec. 31, worth $34 million.
Given that the fundamentals for gold—and precious metals in general—have never been stronger, miners make a heck of a lot of sense. We're certainly seeing record highs in gold, palladium and platinum prices (silver excepted only because of the Hunt Brothers scandal in 1980). Miner equities offer leverage on those rising prices, since a rising commodity price generally translates into higher company profits and thus a higher share price.
This is clearest when you compare gold's relatively mild recent performance to that of gold miners (here since Aug. 1, 2010):
When gold prices rose, both majors and minor gold producers—proxied by the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE Arca: GDX) and the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSE Arca: GDXJ), respectively—outperformed bullion. And when gold prices began to fall, so too did miners outperform—just to the downside. Year-to-date, GLD has lost 4.16 percent, while GDX has dropped 8.15 percent and GDXJ has lost 6.44 percent.
But is Platinum Group Ltd. specifically worth the optimism?
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