In Shaky Times, Precious Metals Funds That Thrive (GLD, GDX, SLV, USERX, KGC, OCMGX, GG, FSAGX, ABX, NCM, GOLDX, GOLD)

Owning gold or silver has been tricky up until recent years.  It has also been a wild ride. Now with the flourishing ETFs, investors can buy the most liquid gold play in SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE: GLD) or they can go after the miners via the liquid Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDX).  iShares Silver Trust (NYSE: SLV) is also now an easy way to buy silver exposure.  But what about the mutual funds that invest in exposure to precious metals?

Investors should use these more for a review rather than any quick trading ideas because anything tied to gold and silver this Friday is taking it on the chin.

Zacks has a report noting that these funds “can be a source of comfort to investors when markets are heading south and the economy is passing through choppy weather.”  The aim is for higher consistent returns that outperform stocks.  These act as diversification and as protection against inflation.  Zacks has offered a list of its top 5 rated precious metals funds this morning, all of which have the Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy).

U.S. Global Investors Gold and Precious Metals (USERX) invests in companies whose primary operations are related to gold and other precious metals. The precious metals mutual fund has a ten year annualized return of 26.34%. The precious metals mutual fund has a minimum initial investment of $5,000 and an expense ratio of 1.80% compared to a category average of 1.40%.  After looking elsewhere, the three month return on Google was noted as +10.2% and the year-to-date return was -6.5%.  Its top holding was listed as Kinross Gold Corporation (NYSE: KGC) at almost 7.5% of the fund.

OCM Gold (OCMGX) invests in companies in the gold mining industry and may also invest in precious metals producers. The precious metals fund has a five year annualized return of 15.52%.  Google listed its 3 month return as 17.8% and a year-to-date return of almost 6%.  More than 12% of its assets were in Goldcorp, Inc. (NYSE: GG).

Fidelity Select Gold (FSAGX) invests in companies whose principal operations are related to gold, and it also invests in gold bullion and coins. Up to 25% of the fund’s assets may be invested in gold and other precious metals through a wholly-owned subsidiary. Zacks noted a return of 20.09% in the last one year period.  Google noted a return of +14.3% in the last three months and a return of +3.3% year-to-date.  The top three holdings are each 10% or more of the weighting and they are in Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE: ABX), Goldcorp, Inc. (NYSE: GG), and Newcrest Mining Limited (NYSE: NCM).

GAMCO Gold AAA (GOLDX) invests at least 80% of its assets in companies which engage in gold-related activities, but a large portion of its assets are in foreign securities.  Zacks noted a three year annualized return of 20.68%.  Google noted a 3-month return of +17.7% and a year-to-date return of almost +4%.  The top two assets in the fund account for more than 23% of the entire fund and they are Randgold Resources, Ltd. ADR (NASDAQ: GOLD) and Newcrest Mining Limited (NYSE: NCM).

Unfortunately for the report, this is coming on a morning that gold and silver are getting hammered and are bring down anything and everything tied to them.  Here are all of Zacks #1 Rank funds.