Again, don't forget - the BULLION is the most important thing. You have to have personal sovereign wealth to really BE FINANCIALLY INDEPENDENT AND SAFE, and safeguard your family's wealth, and your lifetime of earnings. Don't wait until silver is $50 or gold is $2500. Become free from govt/banker molestation, so NO fake paper proxies like Electronically Traded Frauds or other paper trickery. Avoid the traps laid out by the banksters for would be PM investors. ETFs are their #1 way of screwing PM investors by taking their money that would have bought metal and gave them a bunch of paper promises that will in time prove broken. It has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to me by all the leading PM guys. Hell, the Prospectuses actually tell you if you read pertinent sections carefully.
There are only a couple/few hundred million ozs of silver available to investors annually. TOPS! At $30 silver this isn't even a measly $10 billion dollars. That's less than the Fed QEs in a couple days!!! Consider sub $30 silver a gift. TPTB will never regain the confidence from the sheeple. People are waking up to the Ponzi. Some people are fooled by the rising Dow, but ULTIMATE PROTECTION and the ULTIMATE CURRENCY should be in your portfolio as a CORE. For everyone. Real assets are great. The reason PMs are better than RE is because of the OBVIOUS tax advantages to RE and the instant liquidity. Anonymous wealth is a concept people should consider. Do you really think Carlos Slim and Warren Douchett are the 2 richest people in the world?!?! Of course not. You don't even know who is trust me!!! And that's a good thing. The less people know you have the more you can KEEP!!!
Dlhild, I would say the short list the other folks gave you is good research starting point. I like IAG now a lot at 6-7! They have $1B cash and $2.5B market cap. $650M note doesn't mature for 8 years. 1M oz producer with ability to grow organically. Large niobium asset. Good balanced company. 3-4% yield is good pay to wait, among the best in the sector. NEM is yielding 4% too, but the major gold stocks never seem to get going. I'm sure one day they finally will.
AUY is decent but they have 2 mines in Argentina that could become affected by currency turmoil. I am not a strict silver guy, although I lean silver for sure.
Silver and gold bullion should be the MOST IMPORTANT part of your PM portfolio. Start with a good foundation of some good weight in silver and some gold, and maybe a "little" plat and pall. Then miners. Eternally redeemable liquidity and long term wealth storage is what PMs are for, among other things. Take money out of the system and develop private sovereign wealth for yourself. This is what I think is right for me anyway.
As for silver miners, I guess PAAS is a good core holding with a decent dividend in play now, and solid balance sheet and assets. AG is a big favorite of mine, it's the best of breed silver stock, with best mgmt and growth pipeline. Aurcana is up and comer that I feel is a steal at 70 cents current dip price. 6-8M oz production is imminent, so if you believe silver is going higher they will make great money. They are ramping up mine #2 now.... Tahoe is another best of breed silver stock if you've never heard of it. It's run by the former Glamis team, who are top shelf. They have an amazing asset nearing production in Guatamala. SLW is probably a name any silver investor should consider. They are great company and going to increase eps and dividends for years ahead. There are others, just throwing out a few names. A lot of silver plays aren't all that great
Good inputs! Love Aurcana, too! I wish PAAS would buy them out (actually, I think I'd make a lot more money if Aurcana stayed independent, but I think it'd be a good fit with PAAS).
On the bullion vs ETFs vs mining stocks, I think you need to consider what your investing purpose is. Physical PM has the best chance of remaining hidden/untaxed by the idiots in Washington, but is an absolute pain in the butt to cash-in for profits. The ETFs are great ways to trade the metals and the mining stocks *should* have some fantastic leverage to the blow-off top in gold and should continue going up even once gold does eventually top out.
I believe, like you, that you absolutely MUST have a decent amount of physical PM on hand. *** IF *** we have a system meltdown, the physical PM is the ONLY thing that will transfer some wealth from our current system to whatever materializes next. However, history favors our current system surviving (with heavy modifications) and there never actually being a need for physical holdings. Even if we do meltdown, that should take several years, during which time you could make tons of money in the ETFs (if you can trade) & miners (due to the leverage). You should have time to turn some of those additional profits into more physical gold before we crash & burn.
What balance one strikes between physical bullion, ETFs & miners depends on how paranoid one is about impending systemic failure and investing/trading style. Even if you are convinced that the system is "just fine" (or think you can trade now and buy bullion "just in time"), I think you have to buy SOME physical bullion right now to hold as an insurance policy. When times get tough the physical supply will get tight, so you may not be able to convert as much as you'd want. Just my 2 cents.
AUY (Yamana Gold) by a mile. Fantastic execution (production goals met & cost controls ... very few "whammies") and great production growth profile.
I'd put NGD & EGO as 2nd & 3rd, but AUY is tops.
IMO, GG is decent, as well as NEM. ABX is an absolute #$%$ miner, in my book. ABX is the one I'd go short if you wanted a "pairs trade" with another miner.
Re your question about ABX, GG...
ABX, NEM and GG are major producers that supposed to show low risk and low reward, i.e. drop less in bad times and grow less in good times. However, it wasn’t shown recently, during present sector carnage, i.e. when big institutions become negative on gold stocks they look for big victims and ABX/NEM/GG are right here.
Major producers compromised balance sheets by reckless expansions: produce more gold at any cost and it hurts them now. If gold resumes uptrend then they should be Ok, because they do have world-class assets capable to make strong earnings. As you see, major companies have already low PE, and if earnings go up then they are due for big upward correction. Please note that GG has stronger balance sheet in this group and slightly more expensive valuation.
It is quite possible that buying major is a good thing now (better than buying smaller company). Regarding investor sentiment, one should understand that specialized gold investors and, especially, goldbugs dislike major companies. They prefer buying something small; it is somewhat natural. What’s more attractive: make research and find a “hidden gem” or buy something everyone knows about?
SLW is not a mining company. It is a financial company investing in mining (silver) industry. Valuation is a bit high, but it provides steady income and immune from many problems specific to miners. If you are Ok with investing in financial industry, then SLW is a legitimate choice, imho.
You will hardly find two gold investors agreeing on “the best gold stock”. It is even more contentious issue than “the best silver stock”, just because list of gold stocks is longer.
Also, there is a big difference between major producers, mid-tiers, juniors/explorers, etc. and every group has own followers. It is also relevant to say here that the difference between gold and silver stocks is not too big (it is less than the difference between groups above), so if you are able to find good silver stock then you can just use it as a proxy for gold stock.
In other words, PAAS can be taken as a good gold stock, why not. Please note that most of gold and silver stocks are bad or very bad and so if you are able to find a good one then take it. However, if you want to make own DD and need in some list of symbols then check, for example, AUY, EGO, IAG, MDW, NGD, THM (disclosure: I own some of these stocks)