Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gold Stock to Gold Price Ratio

One of the blogs I follow, World of Wallstreet, in his post Obvious (But Original) Thought About The Gold Stock To Price Of Gold Ratio, showed the graph below, hypothesizing that since stock indices have declined 40%, the fact that the gold stock:gold price ratio is down 40% doesn't mean that they're undervalued. He points to the ratio's September 2000 trough (0.15) as evidence that they may decline further.

It's a good thought, certainly suggesting that in the short term this "reversion to mean" may not pan out the way some people are hoping. That said, I'd like to see a longer term chart - it looks to me like the early end of this chart was also up around the .5 range, and that dropped right up until September 2000. That is - the $HUI:$GOLD trough coincides perfectly with the TSX peak during the tech boom. While the NASDAQ isn't as perfect of an inverse correlation, as it was already off its March 2000 peak, its catastrophic decline also significantly accelerated in September.

The ratio then rose through the recession that followed the tech crash. This suggests to me that the ratio's decline was due to money moving into trendy tech stocks, not an overall stock market decline.

My guess - stocks are leveraged against their underlying resource price, since they have a production cost that's more or less fixed. The fact that they're trailing the recent precious metal recovery suggests that investors are concerned that precious metals may once again decline.

Also, I'd point out that while some of the decline in indices is panic selling, some of it reflects reduced profit from individual companies. But a gold miner's profit is entirely related to the price he gets for gold, so at a minimum their decline relative to the gold price should be lower than the decline of the whole index.

I've never professed to be an expert at this. And I've certainly lost a fair bit of money making bad calls on where things are going. But it still seems to me that precious metals - whether producer stock or bullion - should hold up until financial volatility dies down.

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