Yesterday (Oct. 6th) gold hit an all-time high of $1,349 (spot price) while silver hit a 30-year high of $23.19. Today, Gold and silver are pulling back from these record highs as profit-taking is occurring.
In recent years, you and I have constantly heard about the problems with precious metals. We have seen and heard much about the corrections and bearish forecasts. When a particularly strong pull-back occurs, the critics tell us "the bubble has popped" or "the bull market in gold and silver is over".
I have heard from students and readers about their worries about gold plummeting or how the price of silver cratered. We all remember the second half of 2008. Gold held up well but silver was massacred! Silver was over $20 during the spring of 2008 but massive panic selling forced the price of silver to a mind-boggling low of $9.17 by November 2008 (using the data at Kitco).
In 2008, Silver started the year at $14.93 and ended at a dismal $10.79 for a disheartening plunge for the full year of about 28%. However, as of yesterday, silver over the past 24 months had risen by 120%. Of course, you know gold's performance during that time. The precious metals had proven their "mettle". Those that were buyers (especially in bullion and quality mining stocks and ETFs) in recent years and stayed the course were rewarded with strong gains. Short-term speculators were hammered but long-term investors prospered.
In 2008, Gold was one of the few investments that ended up. It started the year at $846.75 and ended the year at $869.75 for a gain of about 3%. In a normal year that is nothing to crow about but don't forget how bad that year was; most investments were down by double-digit percentages. Many stocks ended up in the graveyard of forgotten securities like Bear Stearns and other financial firms (R.I.P.).
How many investors panicked and sold their quality holdings at the bottom of the plunge? Investing means that you choose wisely and logically and then have the discipline to stay the course.
A student of mine was quite disheartened when she bought a silver stock at $14 during the first half of 2008 only to see it lose over 50% of its value in the subsequent months. During that horrific period, the best stocks joined the worst stocks in a terrifying plunge. However, when the recovery took place, the best stocks regained their footing while bad stocks stayed down for the count.
Fortunately, that student did not panic and her silver stock is up 80% since she acquired it. yes... discipline can be profitable.
For us, the lessons are clear. In recent years, precious metals have been a good place to put our money. If you choose good investments, they will make it through the market storms that occur. Unfortunately, the market storms have gotten very strong in recent years and the volatility and tumultuous activity will continue and probably get worse. For investors, that means not only diversification and patience (and aspirin) but also discipline.
This does not mean being complacent and hands-off with your investments. It just means that you monitor them and see if they still make sense as the market goes through its roller-coaster path. It the investment has strong fundamentals and nothing is a direct threat to it, in due course it will do well.
What is the outlook for precious metals and their related securities (stocks and ETFs)? The fact that the economy is still very shaky and the central banks of the world will continue to pump up their money supplies bodes well for gold and silver. Yes... they will continue to have un-nerving corrections.
As I tell always tell my students, bull markets zig-zag upward while bear markets zig-zag downward. Precious metals (along with commodities in general) are in a long-term, historic bull market. Their fundamentals have been strong in recent years and that strength should continue.
The wise investor uses the corrections in a bull market to accumulate more positions. In the end, the disciplined and patient investor wins.