TGR: During your recent Sprott Precious Metals Roundtable, Chief Investment Strategist John Embry pointed out that the gold price could go to $5,000 an ounce, but we would still see less gold coming out of the ground in the next five years because in the current low gold price environment companies are depleting their mines through high grading and cutting back on exploration. That means with or without a health crisis, gold mine supply will fall over the next five years, cutting supply and making existing mining inventory more valuable. Sprott US Holdings CEO Rick Rule agreed that investors need to own the mining shares, but warned that not all gold stocks are created equally. He pointed to the Sprott Gold Miners Exchange Traded Fund (SGDM:NYSE) as an example of a basket of gold mining equities that are chosen based on qualitative company factors and not just market capitalization like most other offerings. How are the companies chosen for that basket?
John Ciampaglia: Sprott Gold Miners ETF aims to track the Sprott Zacks Gold Miners Index, which is designed to identify large and mid-sized companies with attractive investment merit. The Index selects 25 stocks from the investible universe whose historical stock prices have high sensitivity to the price of gold.
The 25 companies are then ranked and weighted using two factors—revenue growth and long-term debt to equity. Revenue growth has been a strong indicator of production growth and the long-term success of a gold producer. The revenue growth screen is based on quarterly revenue growth and measured on a year-over-year basis. Companies with the highest revenue growth scores are rewarded with higher weighting in the Index, while slower growers are penalized. A company like Randgold Resources Ltd. (GOLD:NASDAQ; RRS:LSE), which had revenue growth of 41% in Q2/14 compared to the same quarter in 2013, is currently being rewarded in the Index.
“The natural Armageddon of disease could cause a financial Armageddon and precious metals are the natural comfort play.”
The Index also uses long-term debt to equity as a factor because companies with higher debt levels tend to have weaker balance sheets, and interest payments erode profitability. A high level of debt can also make a company more vulnerable in a downturn. For this reason, a company like Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX:NYSE), which has a high debt ratio, is currently underrepresented in the Index. Conversely, a company like Franco-Nevada Corp. (FNV:TSX; FNV:NYSE) is currently overweighted because it has zero debt.
The process is dynamic, which means that every quarter the Index rebalances its holdings to incorporate the latest company results into its screening process. This ensures that companies with the highest factor scores are represented in the Index on a quarterly basis.
TGR: The Sprott Gold Miners ETF currently holds a mixture of company types at various stages of development. It includes royalty companies like Silver Wheaton Corp. (SLW:TSX; SLW:NYSE), large caps like Goldcorp Inc. (G:TSX; GG:NYSE), along with intermediate producers like Primero Mining Corp. (PPP:NYSE; P:TSX) and New Gold Inc. (NGD:TSX; NGD:NYSE.MKT). Then you have the near-term producers like NOVAGOLD (NG:TSX; NG:NYSE.MKT). What role does each of those company types play in the Index?
ES: You obviously want a cross-section. In this environment, the royalty companies seem to have done the best. They essentially have almost zero cost. All they have is revenue. Now, the revenue goes down because the price of gold and silver goes down, but you’re not going to go broke.
However people invest in precious metals I would like to stress what I said in the roundtable: People need to stay the course. I think the returns can be very large if what should happen is allowed to happen in the physical market. I think it will happen very shortly.
TGR: Thank you for your time, Eric and John.
Eric Sprott has more than 40 years of experience in the investment industry. In 1981, he founded Sprott Securities (now called Cormark Securities Inc.), which today is one of Canada’s largest independently owned securities firms. After establishing Sprott Asset Management Inc. in December 2001 as a separate entity, Sprott divested his entire ownership of Sprott Securities to its employees. Sprott’s predictions on the state of the North American financial markets have been captured throughout the last several years in an investment strategy article that he authors titled “Markets At A Glance.” Sprott has been widely recognized for his strategic insights and his accurate market predictions over the years.
John Ciampaglia joined Sprott in April 2010 as chief operating officer. Ciampaglia has 18 years of experience in the investment industry. Previously, he was a senior executive at Invesco Trimark; Ciampaglia was an active member of the firm’s Executive Committee and held the position of senior vice president, product development. Prior to joining Invesco Trimark, Ciampaglia spent more than four years at TD Asset Management, where he held progressively senior product management and research roles. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from York University, holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute.
1) JT Long conducted this interview for Streetwise Reports LLC, publisher of The Gold Report, The Energy Report, The Life Sciences Report and The Mining Report, and provides services to Streetwise Reports as an employee. She owns, or her family owns, shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None.
2) Eric Sprott: I own, or my family owns, shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: Sprott Gold Miners ETF. I personally am, or my family is, paid by the following companies mentioned in this interview: None. My company has a financial relationship with the following companies mentioned: None. I was not paid by Streetwise Reports for participating in this interview. Comments and opinions expressed are my own comments and opinions. I determined and had final say over what companies would be included in the interview based on my research, understanding of the sector and interview theme. I had the opportunity to review the interview for accuracy as of the date of the interview and am responsible for the content of the interview.
3) John Ciampaglia: I own, or my family owns, shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None. I personally am, or my family is, paid by the following companies mentioned in this interview: None. My company has a financial relationship with the following companies mentioned: None. I was not paid by Streetwise Reports for participating in this interview. Comments and opinions expressed are my own comments and opinions. I determined and had final say over what companies would be included in the interview based on my research, understanding of the sector and interview theme. I had the opportunity to review the interview for accuracy as of the date of the interview and am responsible for the content of the interview.
4) The following companies mentioned in the interview are sponsors of Streetwise Reports: Silver Wheaton Corp., Primero Mining Corp. and NOVAGOLD. Goldcorp Inc. and Franco-Nevada Corp. are not affiliated with Streetwise Reports. Streetwise Reports does not accept stock in exchange for its services. The companies mentioned in this interview were not involved in any aspect of the interview preparation or post-interview editing so the expert can speak independently about the sector.
5) As of Sept. 30, 2014, the Sprott Gold Miners ETF weighting in Franco-Nevada Corp. was 16.85%, Randgold Resources Ltd. was 15.80%, Goldcorp Inc. was 13.83%, Silver Wheaton Corp. was 2.97%, New Gold Inc. was 2.17%, Primero Mining Corp. was 1.91% and NOVAGOLD Resources Inc. was 1.25%. Future holdings are subject to change. ALPS Portfolio Solutions Distributor, Inc. is the Distributor for the Sprott Gold Miners ETF. An investor cannot invest directly in an index.
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