With $68.9 billion in assets under management, the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE:GLD) is the second-largest ETF in the world. The iShares Gold Trust (NYSE:IAU) is not exactly tiny with $10 billion in AUM, nor can the $9.5 billion iShares Silver Trust (NYSE:SLV) be considered diminutive.
On the mining front, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE:GDX) has almost $8.4 billion in AUM while the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSE:GDXJ) is home to a healthy $2.6 billion in assets. In other words, it is unusual to find an exchange-traded product that offers exposure to the precious metals complex that can be considered anonymous or obscure.
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Whether its a futures play, a fund backed by physical holdings or an equity-based fund, there are a few precious metals ETFs and ETNs out there that brokers and investors probably have not heard of. With gold and silver looking as though they want to make new highs, there is no time like the present to become acquainted with some new precious metals plays.
ETFS Physical White Metals Basket Shares (NYSE:WITE) For the investor that already has gold exposure and just cannot decide between the white metals, there is the ETFS Physical White Metals Basket Shares. Nearly two-years-old, WITE uses a basket approach to give investors exposure to silver, platinum and palladium. WITE currently holds almost 49,500 ounces of silver, 495 ounces of platinum and 396 ounces of palladium, according to ETF Securities data.
Despite the soaring popularity of precious metals ETFs in recent years, WITE has struggled to capture investors' attention. The fund has just over $34 million in AUM and average daily volume below 1,900 shares. That shows investors are missing out on a good thing as WITE is up nine percent year-to-date.
PowerShares DB Precious Metals Fund (NYSE:DBP) With almost $323 million in AUM, calling the PowerShares DB Precious Metals Fund anonymous is a stretch. Overlooked might be the more appropriate descriptor. Where DBP differs from funds such as GLD and SLV is its fees. DBP charges 0.79 percent per year, which is high among metals funds, particularly when considering DBP has no storage costs.
Then again, futures-based exchange-traded products have a reputation for high fees and DBP does live up to that billing. The fund tracks the DBIQ Optimum Yield Precious Metals Index, which is 80 percent allocated to gold and 20 percent allocated to silver.
DBP is up 6.3 percent year-to-date, but that is barely better than GLD and more than 400 basis points worse than SLV.
iShares MSCI Global Gold Miners Fund (NYSE:RING) The iShares MSCI Global Gold Miners Fund is another good example of a new ETF that has shown it will be around for a while, though it is debatable that many investors even know that much about this mining play. RING debuted in late January and now has $32.4 million in AUM.
That is not a bad haul, but that total also indicates RING has its hands full in terms of competing with GDX's first-to-market advantage. GDX and RING actually make for an interesting competition. RING's 0.39 percent expense ratio is 13 basis points below GDX's, but the Market Vectors fund has sharply outperformed the iShares ETF over the past three months.
At the very least, RING is off to a better start than the iShares MSCI Global Silver Miners Fund (NYSE:SLVP). SLVP has made almost no inroads on the Global X Silver Miners ETF (NYSE:SIL), the dominant silver miners fund.
For more on mining ETFs, click here.
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