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Gold is poised for a strong second half, says Investec Asset Management


In recent months there has been renewed investor interest in gold, with the first half of 2014 seeing the gold price rise by 10 per cent.

Investors have also tempered their gold ETF selling year on year, says Investec Asset Management.
Last year saw global gold ETF holdings decline by 33 per cent as investors priced in tapering of QE and higher interest rates, but this year has seen a change in sentiment as year-to-date ETF holdings have only declined by 1.8 per cent.
According to Scott Winship, portfolio manager of the Investec Asset Management Global Gold Fund, three primary factors are likely to generate further interest in gold from investors, and subsequently gold ETF inflows, driving the gold price higher.
“First, Inflation has long been suggested as a potential consequence of unprecedented money creation by the world’s central banks over the last few years,” says Winship. “There are signs that it may slowly be emerging in 2014. US inflation data for May 2014 showed a 0.4 per cent month-on-month increase in consumer prices, which was twice as large as the consensus forecast of 0.2 per cent, and it pushed the annual inflation rate up to 2.1 per cent from 2.0 per cent in April. Year-to-date US consumer prices have risen at a 2.6 per cent annualised rate. Some of this can be attributed to fuel and food, but examining core inflation shows an acceleration to 2.3 per cent for the first five months of the year versus 1.6 per cent at the end of 2013.
“Gold has historically proven to be an excellent hedge against inflation. Goldman Sachs recently produced research which suggests that there is a 91 per cent correlation between US CPI and the USD gold price over the past decade. The correlation remains strong at 73 per cent when the time period is extended and run from 1970 to today.  Not only has gold proven its worth as an inflation hedge, it has also proven its worth against different asset classes. Since 1970 the gold price has increased at a CAGR of +8.5 per cent, outperforming the US CPI Index by 4.3 per cent and the S&P 500 by 1.4 per cent per annum.
“The final point is that of seasonality, which has historically led to higher gold demand in the second half of the calendar year and hence better price performance. This is because the Indian monsoon/harvest season boosts incomes and the timing of the Indian wedding season, around Diwali, sees significant quantities of gold purchased as gifts.
“Beta has also returned to the gold sector, with gold equities showing two times leverage to the gold price in 2014. Gold equities represented by the EuroMoney Gold Mines Index were up 22 per cent at the half year stage. After years of underperforming the gold price we believe gold equities are finally showing leverage, as they are fundamentally better businesses than they have been in the past. New management teams have focused on return metrics with current and future production decisions based on whether an economic return can be earned. In a lower gold price environment this has meant marginal projects have been cancelled or deferred, freeing up capital in the business.
“Shareholders have long called for better capital allocation and in turn a dividend, which helps keeps management honest. Helping deliver positive free cashflow has been a much needed focus on a bloated cost base. Excessive corporate costs and non-essential mine site costs have been slashed to the point where free cashflow yields are now positive and growing.”
Winship expects continued interest in gold equities this year as generalist investors look to allocate after being underweight for some time and M&A returns to the sector. The bidding war for Osisko from the industry’s biggest players highlights a valuation case and confidence in the ‘new’ business models the industry is creating.

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