Johannesburg - From the beginning of July the JSE’s Gold Mining [JSE:J150]
index has risen almost as much as the gold price, but analysts still do not regard gold shares as the best way to invest in the yellow metal.
The Harmony Gold Mining Company [JSE:HAR], AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG]
, Gold Fields [JSE:GFI]
and DRDGOLD [JSE:DRD] share prices have climbed an average of 7.4% from the beginning of the month, compared with the 8.8% that the gold price has picked up.
In its run on Monday the gold price reached a new record level of $1 624/fine ounce. Gold shares are however well known to underperform the gold price.
Coronation Fund Managers portfolio manager Duane Cable said the large gold mines’ results reflect this – the gold bull market has run for more than a decade and the mining groups have been unable to convert this into earnings.
Their cash flows and the quality of earnings have been very weak for ten years. Of each R10 generated, only about R3 worth of earnings has been distributed to shareholders, said Cable.
Absa Asset Management portfolio manager Chris Gilmour said that the mines do not have the quality of gold reserves they had 30 or 40 years ago. The remaining gold also lies much deeper and there are serious concerns about safety.
Other important factors that affect local mining shares, in particular, include the cost of labour and the often inflexible labour laws, as well as expenses such as electricity.
Investec Asset Management portfolio manager Bradley George said that inflationary costs will remain stubbornly high with oil prices at elevated levels. Gold mines are among those companies most vulnerable to fuel price increases, with about 40% of their costs related to energy.
Unless the gold price goes considerably higher pretty quickly without costs rising in tandem, and the rand does not strengthen as quickly, an investment in gold shares would not be worthwhile, said Gilmour.
He reckoned it would be more rewarding to invest in an exchange-traded gold fund. It would be even more advantageous to make a dollar investment in such a fund, because the local impact of the rand on the gold price should also be taken into account.
Cable does however see value in one share – Pan African Resources [JSE:PAN]
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