Forget the metal. For gold lovers, 2014 has been the year of the miners.
Since the year began, gold is up 7.5 percent. But in the meantime, the ETF tracking gold miner stocks (which trades under the ticker symbol GDX) is up an incredible 30 percent.
Is there still room to the upside for mining stocks?
“The appreciation is done,” said Erin Gibbs, equity chief investment officer at S&P Capital IQ. “Gold miners tend to be much more volatile with respect to the gold trades, and they also tend to be slightly leading. So they tend to go up really fast before gold goes up and then tend to really drop. I don’t see a lot more appreciation coming out of this.”
The GDX’s recent rise isn’t just related to the gold price—it’s a reflection of increased efficiencies and profitability, Gibbs said. However, she sees the ETF as now being expensive; the GDX is currently trading at roughly 31 times its trailing 12-month earnings.
“From here on out, given the global stability and not expecting a huge change in the price of gold, I think they’re at the top of their valuation range,” Gibbs said of the miners. “This is pretty much what we’re going to see: underperforming for the rest of the year.”
Richard Ross, global technical strategist at Auerbach Grayson, hasn’t written off gold miners just yet. He notes the GDX is rebounding off its 2013 loss of 54 percent.
“This has been one of the more intriguing trades of the year,” said Ross, a “Talking Numbers” contributor. “Over the last 12 months, we’ve been carving out an interesting, if not very volatile, bottom.”
Ross sees a bullish head-and-shoulders bottom within a base of support spanning the past year and a half. The neckline resistance for that pattern in the GDX is at $28.
“If we were able to get above the neckline of that pattern – that key resistance around the $28 level – that would be a fairly compelling breakout,” Ross said.
The technician does not think it’s too late to get into the gold miners ETF, though he rather wait for it to trade above its resistance level.
“Above $28, I’m a buyer of the miners,” Ross said.
To see the full discussion on gold miners, with Gibbs on the fundamentals and Ross on the technicals, watch the above video.