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Pure Gold, Miner ETFs Add Luster to Portfolios in Uncertain Times By

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By Christiana Sciaudone — Gold has been hitting record highs recently. Are gold ETFs overdone?

Probably not, says Dan Weiskopf, a portfolio manager at Toroso Investments whose Twitter handle is @ETFProfessor. 

“We’re dealing in a world that has a lot of unknowns,” Weiskopf said in a phone interview. “Gold’s a good place for everyone’s portfolio.”

The U.S. dollar may fall apart, the world is printing money relentlessly. At some point inflation will be needed to pay it back — can protect investors from that issue.   

The question becomes how much and how do you play the metal, Weiskopf said. There are both pure play ETFs and gold miner ETFs to consider.

To the pure plays: SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE:) — the largest gold ETF in the world by assets at $77 billion and the largest commodities ETF trading in the U.S. — and SPDR Gold MiniShares (NYSE:) offer essentially the same product. GLDM has about $3.3 billion in assets, and the same sponsor. The difference is that each GLD share represents 1/10th of an ounce of gold to GLDM’s 1/100th of an ounce of gold. Additionally, GLDM’s annual expense ratio is 0.18% compared to GLD’s 0.4%. 

And that’s the key, said Todd Rosenbluth, head of ETF & mutual fund research at CFRA.

“GLD is the heavyweight, it’s where institutional investors have long gone to put money to work but there are cheaper alternatives,” Rosenbluth said in a phone interview last week.

He points not only to GLDM, but also to GraniteShares Gold Trust (NYSE:) — BAR, where the expense is about half and the exposure is the same.  

“For a retail investor who is unlikely to be trading in size, GLDM, BAR and others like it are extremely appropriate ways of getting exposure to gold,” Rosenbluth said. 

When it comes to miners, Rosenbluth likes VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE:) — GDX, which includes Newmont Goldcorp Corp (NYSE:), Franco-Nevada Corporation (NYSE:), and Wheaton Precious Metals (NYSE:). 

“We think that fundamentals for these companies look positive,” Rosenbluth said.  

VanEck Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSE:) is a similar bet, but on smaller cap companies. 

Rosenbluth points out that pure gold ETFs have less potential upside and downside than stock-based ETFs. For example, GLD is up 25% over the past year, while GDX rose 35% and GDXJ increased 37%.   



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