Update No. 6 – 08/05/11


Current Period Apr 01 2011 Current Price Since inception
EGP Fund No. 1 1.00000 0.98285 (1.72%)
S&PASX200 (TR) 35632.05 34942.26 (1.94%)

EGP Fund No. 1 Pty Ltd. Down by 1.72%, leading the benchmark by 0.22%. A couple of our stocks took a tumble this week, we remain confident in our selections.

S&PASX200TR The benchmark index is down by 1.94% since April 1 launch.

There is enormous excitement about the price of gold at the moment, speculation it will go to US$2000 per ounce within months and so on.I thought I would add a little of my perspective on that.

I went back to the height of the global financial crisis, about the time that Lehman Brothers collapsed to look at various precious metals prices to find the data I went to the Perth Mint website, which is a great source of such information. On 13 September 2008, the AU$ prices for the 3 key precious metals were $929.78 (Gold), $13.34 (Silver) and $1,490.05 (Platinum).From the same source, as at 31 March 2011, the respective AU$ prices were $1,430.24, $37.23 & $1,739.87.Each of these has shown respectable gains, 53.83% for gold, 179.09% for silver & 16.77% for platinum. Would have been pleasing to acquire some silver about then…

What it got me thinking, however, was what alternatives might you have considered for investment at that point.Assume instead you purchased BHP at the closing price from 12 September 2008 (same day as above). BHP is the biggest company in Australia (apparently 4th biggest in the world now) and most would consider them a safe prospect.Now BHP was trading at $36 on that day and traded at $46.56 on 31 March 2011 (the closing point for the precious metals prices above). An Australian investor in BHP would also have earned $2.55 in dividends, which would have come with $1.09 in attached Franking Credits. So a March 31 2011 total value to investor per share of $50.20. This is a handsome return over the period of 39.44%, which doesn’t fall far short of the movement in the gold price. In my view people get needlessly excited about the gold price, I could quite easily demonstrate a variety of investments which performed better still, but if it’s safe-haven investing you seek, in my view BHP is just as safe as gold and actually ‘earns’ money instead of sitting there looking shiny (and probably ‘costing’ you money to safely store and insure).

A more interesting aspect about investing in precious metals is their prices in relation to each other.For example, over the last 20 years, on average, the silver price has been 1/65th (with a range between 1/93rd & 1/38th) of the price of gold, at the moment it is about 1/38th, which would seem to indicate silver is about 69.23% more expensive than its historic price and at its most valuable in the last 20 years (in comparison to gold).Now I don’t mean to rush out and sell all your silver, but in relation to its historic comparison price with gold, it appears expensive.Platinum on the other hand, over the last 20 years has historically traded at about 1.4x the price of gold (with a range of between 0.94x & 2.44x).At the moment, it trades at about 1.22x the price of gold, so based on its historic comparison with gold; it is about 13% below its 20 year average.Again, don’t rush out and buy platinum.

The way a ‘trader’ (as opposed to investors like ourselves) might play the information above would likely be to conduct a pair’s trade.Based on the AU$ prices as I write (28th April 2011) an AU$100,000 trade would look as follows:

  • Buy 60oz platinum @ AU$1,662.98 per oz for $99,778.80
  • Sell 2,375oz silver @ AU$42.01 per oz for $99,773.75

Now the hope here of course would be that for example, platinum moves to say AU$2,000oz and silver retreats to say AU$30oz.Such an occurrence would generate a $48,744.95 profit (less any trading costs) and given the volatility of these commodities, these movements could happen quickly, so you can see why such trades attract people.I will revisit the trade around this time next year and see how it would have played out.

Fact is, if I ever became particularly passionate about a precious metal (or any other mined commodity) being very cheap, my likely reaction to such a situation would not be to build a large safe and store significant quantities of the metal in question, waiting for the price to rise.What I would likely instead do, is find a miner of the commodity I liked, whose business I believed to be undervalued and buy its shares.In this way, if my belief that the commodity was cheap turns out to be true, I am positioned to benefit out of not only the improvement in the price of the metal, but with the kicker of a potential increase in the intrinsic value and/or market price of the miner I own which is unrelated to commodity prices – Tony Hansen 08/05/11