The gold trade has always been controversial. Obviously, gold investors have done extremely well over the last decade, but many financial types still scoff at holding a large precious metals position. While "gold bugs" receive frequent derision, the reality is that many of the savviest money managers in the world are, in fact, "gold bugs."
Hedge funds recently filed their second quarter 13-Fs outlining their long equity positions, and this allows us to see how some of the top funds are positioned in gold. The 13-F filings, however, do not cover holdings of physical gold, so while they are not a full accounting, they do provide a glimpse into who is still involved in the precious metals trade.
Greenlight Capital - This hedge fund is run by noted short-seller and value investor David Einhorn, who happens to be a big fan of gold. In fact, Greenlight actually has a gold-denominated fund. In 2009, Einhorn sold his position in the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD) and bought physical gold instead. The word is that Greenlight stores its physical gold at an undisclosed vault located in Manhattan. Rest assured, there is a lot of gold in that vault -- hundreds of millions of dollars worth.
In addition to Greenlight's position in physical gold, the hedge fund also reported positions in Barrick Gold (ABX) and the Market Vectors Gold Mining Trust ETF (NYSE::GDX). Greenlight's position in Barrick amounted to around $73 million as of the fund's last filing. The Gold Miners ETF position was worth a whopping $269 million. Based on what we know about David Einhorn and how his fund is positioned, it is clear that he still likes gold as an investment.
Paulson & Co. - Similar to Greenlight Capital, John Paulson's hedge fund also offers a gold-denominated fund. Paulson is probably the best-known gold bug in the world at this point. Paulson & Co.'s most recent 13-F is full of gold miners and the hedge fund is still holding a giant position in the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD). The first company that shows up in the filing is Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM), a Canadian gold miner.
The hedge fund's position in Agnico-Eagle was valued at just over $41 million. Paulson also has a nearly $43 million position in less well-known miner Allied Nevada Gold (ANV). Paulson & Co.'s 13-F also shows that the fund continues to hold a very large position in South African gold miner AngloGold Ashanti (AU). In fact, the fund is the largest holder of the company, with a 8.50% stake valued at roughly $1.13 billion. Now, that is a position! Next up, is Barrick Gold (ABX). Paulson has a $34 million stake in this well-known gold miner. The filing also shows a $231 million position in Gold Fields Limited (GFI). Given the sheer number of gold miners that show up in Paulson & Co's filing, it is clear that the billionaire is covering all of the bases to make sure his investors do well if gold continues to rise like he expects. Paulson has a $45 million position in IAMGOLD Corp. (IAG) and a new $189 million stake in NovaGold Resources (NG).
The hedge fund also owns nearly $84 million worth of Randgold Resources (GOLD). Finally, there is, Paulson & Co.'s massive stake in the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD). This position was valued at a whopping $3.39 billion as of the last filing period. Given the size and scope of Paulson's gold holdings, there is little doubt that he and his investors have as much riding on the yellow metal as anyone in the world.
Soros Fund Management - George Soros is an interesting guy. He is a diehard liberal, but also an uber-capitalist. Even at 82, George Soros might be the best trader on the planet. He didn't make his money like Warren Buffett, who is a buy and hold guy, but rather by moving in and out of markets with gigantic size. In recent years, Soros has been trading the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD). This makes sense, as it is one of the most liquid securities on Earth and is big enough to accommodate the size he trades.
As of Soros Fund Management's last 13-F filing, he was riding a roughly $137 million position in the ETF. Soros also owns the two prominent gold mining ETFs. His fund had a $45 million and $46 million stake in the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) and Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ). He also owned a very small position in Newmont Mining (NEM), which was valued at a little over $6 million.
While Soros is not nearly as invested in gold as Einhorn and Paulson, it is also hard to gauge exactly what he is doing from his 13-F filing because he is known to move in and out of positions with fairly high frequency.
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