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2017 Leaders and Laggards in the Gold Stock Industry

- By Alberto Abaterusso

With 2017 being almost over, we can already draw up the balance sheet for the best and worst performers of the year among U.S. publicly traded gold mining stocks.

Among the best performers for 2017, Kinross Gold Corp. (KGC), Iamgold (IAG) and GoldFields (GFI) stand out with a 39%, 53% and 39% gain, respectively.

Kinross, Iamgold and GoldFields outperformed the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) with 28%, 42% and 28% gains.

2017 was also positive for investors of Newmont Mining (NEM) with a 10% gain, of Yamana Gold (AUY) with with a 12%, of Randgold Resources Limited (GOLD) with a 27% gain, of B2Gold (BTG) with a 30% gain, of Franco-Nevada Corp. with a 32% gain and of Randgold Resources Limited (GOLD) with a 27% gain.

With a loss of 56% so far this year, Eldorado Gold (EGO) is the worst performer. Issues with the Greek government for the release of the necessary building permits plus a lower guidance on production due to reduced gold recovery rates at Kisladag mine in Turkey weighed on the market value of Eldorado.

2017 is not going to close positively for investors of Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX) and Goldcorp (GG) either. The biggest producer of the yellow metal in the world has lost 9% year to date and is 20% below the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF.

Goldcorp has lost 6% and underperformed the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF by 17%.

At picture"s completion: McEwen Mining Inc. (MUX) lost 19% year to date, Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited (HMY) lost 16% and AngloGold Ashanti Limited (AU) lost 5%.

Tips for the coming weeks: With the recent up-trending price, gold is going to average $1,275 per troy ounce on the London Bullion Market in the last quarter of 2017, nearly replicating the same price of the previous quarter when, among its mid-tier producers, Iamgold stood out with an impressive 600% positive surprise on third quarter 2017 earnings.

Following that beat, investors of Iamgold enjoyed a hefty 6% in only few hours trading.

For the following couple of months - and at least till the next earnings season - my preference is for the mid-tier gold producers and for Iamgold Corp. in particular. The next earnings season of mid-tier gold producers will fall between February and March 2018.

For full 2018, if expectations see gold hitting a price of $1,280 per troy ounce, the chance it will average the price of $1,270-$1,272 per troy ounce is low. Therefore in such a scenario I would opt for the biggest producers of gold such as Barrick Gold Corp. The largest producer of gold in the world can mine at profit starting from a price of $1,000-$1,100 per troy ounce.

In this scenario, Yamana Gold also offers an attractive option since the Canadian miner - even though not one of the biggest producers - can make profit already when gold trades at $1,150-$1,200 per ounce.

Among Barrick Gold Corp."s most direct peers , Newmont Mining, Goldcorp, Kinross Gold and Agnico Eagle Mines are also good bets.

Disclosure: no positions in any stock mentioned in this article.

This article first appeared on GuruFocus.