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The Bullion Bulls Basket

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As we educate our readers on investing in precious metals mining companies, a common theme in our message is that investors must own/hold a “basket” of these companies. This criterion is based upon several factors.

As is the case in many sectors, “high growth” is only available via investing in the smaller mining companies – the “junior miners”. Conversely, while these smaller companies offer vastly superior growth profiles versus the “seniors”, the trade-off is that (naturally) there is increased volatility with these companies, and risk.

This “risk” comes in two forms. There is the absolute risk that any particular miner might fail to succeed, and will saddle its investors with long-term losses. The other aspect of risk is with respect to the rate of development of these companies. With their more speculative nature, even the expert analysts in this sector cannot predict with precision the speed with which these companies will develop.

Holding a basket of these junior miners addresses both of these categories of risk. Spreading out our investments among more companies, greatly reduces the impact of any one “loser” on our overall performance. Similarly, by spreading out our “bets” among these companies we also address the second form of risk – the amount of time we must wait before the investment potential of a particular company is realized. By holding a number of these companies, we will (hopefully) always manage to pick a few of those miners who manage to excel over the short term.

This variable rate of performance among our holdings provides us with additional opportunities to improve our rate of return. With companies which have “outperformed” over the short term, we can take some profits. In turn, with this new capital we can (if we choose) reinvest those profits in our miners which have lagged in performance (assuming we expect them to “catch up” with their peers), or simply add a new prospect which has caught our eye. Thus, by holding a basket of these miners, and actively managing our portfolio we can greatly improve our long-term return, while minimizing the amount of risk we must incur.

Let me take a moment to qualify this advice. As I also state regularly in my writing, contrary to the message from most experts, “buy and hold” is not “dead” as a strategy when it comes to the precious metals sector. When financial advisors claim that buy-and-hold is “dead”, this is nothing less than an admission on their part that they don’t know what will happen in markets in the future.

Sadly, these “experts” could have saved their clients $100’s of billions in losses if they had merely confessed to their collective ignorance before the Crash of ’08. Conversely, while the holders of these precious metals juniors were also ambushed by that crash, their portfolios have not only recovered all of those horrific losses, but generated fat profits for those astute enough to be holding these companies.

The message here for more conservative investors is if a basket of these junior miners could not only survive but thrive after the Crash of ’08, then rather than being “risky”, a portfolio of these resilient equities is a safe and conservative strategy for buy-and-hold investors.

Naturally, as we advise our readers of this strategy again and again, a request which we receive with increasing frequency is “help us in creating our own baskets of companies”. It is in response to that interest that we are putting out our first feature on a “Bullion Bulls Basket”.

First, a few words of explanation. Without understanding the particular needs/objectives of any individual investor, it is impossible to say (generically) whether any particular “basket” of companies is suitable for their own portfolios. Thus the names and information presented here are purely for educational purposes – as illustrative examples.

A part of “empowering” our readers as investors is that they must take personal responsibility for assessing their own needs, and the investments which suit those needs the best. The dismal recent performance of most “experts”, and their consequent refusal to stand behind their own advice demonstrates in the clearest terms that for most serious investors they could not do worse than the experts by investing on their own.

Picking a basket of these companies not only allows us to reduce our overall level of risk, but it allows us to “diversify” within the sector. “Junior miners” are anything but an homogenous group of companies. They come in various sizes, with various levels of risk, various levels of “leverage” – and every one with a unique growth profile. While we encourage investors to diversify into other commodities sectors, those who choose to focus their holdings in precious metals can use diversification within the sector as a means to optimize their level of risk.

Each member of the Bullion Bulls team has picked five miners for their “basket”, not because this represents an optimal number, but rather to simplify things for educational purposes. The appropriate number of these companies to hold for any individual investor depends on three factors: the size of one’s portfolio, the amount of time available to research these companies, and the percentage of one’s portfolio dedicated to precious metals miners.

Ideally, every mining investor should endeavour to accumulate (over time) a basket of at least ten of these companies. Hopefully our illustrative example can provide investors with useful guidance in the composition of their own baskets. The only guideline which I stipulated for our “team” is that of the five companies we selected, two had to be “producers”, two had to be “near-term producers” or “advanced exploration companies”, and one had to be an “early-stage explorer”.

Here we see the beginnings of our “diversification” strategy. Current producers, while still offering exciting growth profiles, provide a level of safety and stability through already having existing, profitable operations. Near-term producers and advanced-stage explorers naturally represent a higher degree of uncertainty (and risk), while representing a very high level of probability that such projects will evolve into lucrative mining operations. Early-stage explorers represent the maximum level of risk, and thus have been “discounted” by the market to the greatest degree (generally speaking). This, in turn, results in these highly-speculative companies offering the greatest potential return.

The ratio of these companies in this example should be considered an “aggressive” investment strategy for this sector. Those investors who wish to reduce their level of risk would hold a higher percentage of producers, while those who wanted a more aggressive strategy would increase the ratio of pre-production companies. Early-stage explorers inevitably represent a level of “gambling” in our investing, and should not represent the majority of a portfolio for any prudent investor.

For the sake of brevity, I have restricted all of us to no more than one sentence on each “pick”. For more detailed information on these companies, nearly all of them are already listed and described in our own database of these companies.

[Personal disclosure: we personally hold most/all of the companies used in this example.]

Chad McNamara: Chad is more than just the “pretty face” who keeps our site running and provides all of our in-house technical expertise. He is also an experienced mining investor who has been selecting his own investments for many years.

USA Silver (TSX-V: USA) – I don’t like the hedge on production, but still a “winner”.

Avion Gold Corp (TSX: AVR) – This one has recently made the move to the “big board” (the TSX exchange), while operational results should continue to drive it in the future.

Silvermex Resources (TSX: SLX) – A great management team and excellent growth potential after the recent merger.

Trueclaim Exploration (TSX-V: TRM) – This company is located in the fabulous “Red Lake” district, and possesses its own “XRF” mining technology.

Jayden Resources (TSX: JDN) – I like the potential of its “Silver Coin” project.

Brian Boutilier: Our Mining Coordinator, “Boot” is a rabid investor himself, and works tirelessly on continuing to expand and improve upon our mining database. Though generally favoring the smaller juniors over the past year, he has used the latest pull-back in the sector as an opportunity to stock-up on a couple of his favorite mid-cap companies.

Pan American Silver Corp (NAS: PAAS) – Despite its size, because it’s producing 20 million ounces of silver per year at very low cash costs it is attractive at current valuations.

Fortuna Silver Mines (TSX: FVI) – This one is producing 2 million ounces of silver per year at very low cash costs, largely due to the high grades of its deposit.

Colossus Minerals (TSX: CSI) – Not only does this company have a resource estimate pending, but it’s rapidly moving toward production (estimated for Q3 of this year) – a real “sleeper”.

Golden Minerals (AMEX: AUMN) – This company already has a 50-million ounce silver resource, and I like the high grades of the deposit.

Golden Hope Mines (TSX-V: GNH) – It’s currently drilling into some average grade ore (3 g/t), but over a very long “strike length” (roughly 15 km), and will hopefully come out with a resource estimate not too far down the road.

Jeff Nielson: I was actually the last member of our team to begin seriously investing in these companies, so I had a lot of homework to do to “get up to speed”. With writing (and researching) my commentaries now seriously impinging on the time I can spend managing my own portfolio, whenever I’m  looking for a “hot pick” these days I’ll usually get Brian to whisper a couple of names into my ear…

Great Panther Silver (TSX: GPR) – I’ve always been attracted by the high grades and large up-side potential on its silver resource(s), while transforming itself into a low-cost producer has “sweetened the deal”.

Revett Minerals (TSX: RVM) – Already has a silver mine in production while it moves toward production with its much larger Rock Creek copper/silver project.

Colossus Minerals (TSX: CSI) – Simply the “richest” ore you will find with any precious metals deposit: very high grades of gold, platinum, and palladium (all together).

Trade Winds Ventures (TSX-V: TWD) – Holds a significant (but undervalued) chunk of the 15-million ounce Detour Lake project, with a major drilling campaign planned for 2011.

Pelangio Exploration (TSX-V: PX) – This early-stage explorer holds two gold exploration properties in Ghana with superb “blue sky” potential.

What will make this a truly invaluable learning experience for newer investors to this sector is to take some additional time to read-up on these companies and become more familiar with their “stories”. Then ask yourselves the following questions regarding the “diversity” of the baskets. How well do they diversify, between gold and silver, between different regions/countries, among the different stages of development, and how well do they generally diversify our risks?

Obviously in artificially limiting ourselves to only five companies, we cannot compose a single basket which perfectly addresses all of these issues. Ask yourselves what companies you would add (or change) to improve upon these “baskets”.

To complete this learning experience, I will produce a sequel to this exercise: “Analyzing a Basket of Miners”. As with all forms of education, readers will benefit the most from these two pieces by spending some time to acquire “hands-on experience” by evaluating these companies for themselves. To supplement this learning experience, we urge readers to visit our “Education Vault”, which provides a start-to-finish education on learning about precious metals and how to invest in the companies which mine them.

The best days (and years) are clearly still ahead for precious metals miners. For those who are still “on the outside, looking in”, it is not too late to learn about these companies, and to add this important asset class to your own investments.

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Jeff Nielson
...
written by Jeff Nielson, February 10, 2011
Earl, we love to hear such feedback!

I'm still new enough at this that I remember how "frightening" it was the first few times I "pulled the trigger" on my own. After that, however, it has been very empowering.

Even at the worst of the Crash of '08, I always felt "in control" of my portfolio (this is to be separated from feeling "in control" over the MARKETS, themselves - lol). When your "investment plan" is one that you crafted yourself, you either continue to have CONFIDENCE in the plan (defined as still being able to sleep well at night), or you CHANGE THE PLAN.

Conversely, when you allow an "expert" to make these decisions for you, you are following the EXPERT'S plan. This not only surrenders some "control", but if/when things start to go badly it's MUCH harder to sleep soundly at night when YOUR future is resting upon the success of SOMEONE ELSE'S plan.

Finally, doing this yourself FORCES people to become better-acquainted with their investments. This greater knowledge not only tends to translate into more investment success, but ALSO means you will be much more COMFORTABLE in coping with the "volatility" inflicted upon us by the banksters.

Sleep better AND earn a better rate of return. We think that more than justifies the time/effort needed to "become your own boss" here.
Earl
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written by Earl, February 10, 2011
Chad, Brian, and Jeff,

Just wanted you to know, I appreciate the “bullion basket”. Thank You for a “starting point”, as this is an investment vehicle that I would not have fathomed 6 months ago. It is definitely an affordable investment opportunity, and the research is interesting also. I felt like a “world traveler” at times, as I was researching some of these companies.

Thank you again for the ‘starting point’.
Earl
Jeff Nielson
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written by Jeff Nielson, February 05, 2011
Abperusdisvet, we've talked about refining/improving our own mining database. Actually Chad and I like to TALK about that subject more - since Brian is the one who would be doing most of the work. smilies/grin.gif

There are TWO issues with respect to collecting tables of data like you see on the link you provided. One is keeping it up to date. It's highly unlikely that the site to which you referred is even able to update that data MONTHLY, since the companies themselves won't all be updating their data that regularly. So (at best) it's likely updated quarterly, with the ACCURACY of each company's data varying as a result.

Secondly, the measurement of "dollars per ounce in the ground" is a VERY simplistic way of classifying miners. Indeed, one of my long-time favorites is a company which steered AWAY from proving up its "ounces in the ground" (the basis for that ratio) in favor of focusing on upgrading operations.

One of Brian's CURRENT favorites is a company which he believes he's buying at a GREAT price - specifically because THEY also focused on operational priorities rather than simply looking to maximize "ounces in the ground".

What tables like THAT will tend to show you are which companies are getting the RICHEST valuations, and NOT which companies represent the "best values".

We can ALL look at tables. If it was possible to create ANY table which would allow us to quickly/easily distinguish between these miners, then such an advantage would STILL be next-to-worthless - because the companies at the TOP of that list would be very highly valued (because everyone wanted to hold them), resulting in the companies further DOWN the list being the best values (lol).

As a general principle of investing, if it's TOO EASY to learn about any particular investment, then most likely that investment will ALREADY be "crowded" by the time we get there.

Our approach is to look at the companies as "individual stories", which CAN'T be summarized in a convenient table. However, the up-side of this more methodical approach to searching for our miners is that we CAN manage to get to particular "good buys" BEFORE the masses beat us to them.
Jeff Nielson
...
written by Jeff Nielson, February 05, 2011
Redpill, my reply to your question is the same as when I say these companies can be considered "buy and hold" investments: we simply shrug our shoulders and wait for the market conditions to improve.

The GREAT thing about the "game" of buying and selling equities is that as long as you stay away from margin, no one can FORCE you to buy or sell at an inopportune time.

For those who us who believe there is no other asset class which represents RELIABLE "value" to the same degree as precious metals, it's no great "leap of faith" to also be a big believer in those companies who can PRODUCE these assets (for large profits).

Essentially miners are like anti-bankers. Bankers create their pretend "money", and flooding our economies with it makes them weaker and weaker. Miners produce REAL "money", and as THAT money flows into our economies, the economies get stronger and stronger.
apberusdisvet
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written by apberusdisvet, February 05, 2011
I strongly suggest that part of any due diligence on juniors should be a look at goldminerpulse.com; a treasure trove of information on most of the listed miners out there; an excellent site to compare the "pump" so often found with actual facts.
redpill
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written by redpill, February 04, 2011
What could happen to the portfolios in the case of bank hollydays?
Brian Boutilier
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written by Brian Boutilier, February 04, 2011
dgierl I Agree, I like Rubicon also. The resource update will be a value driver. Not only are they proving up more tonnage, but they may even raise the grade with infill drilling in the 9x zone. I'm a fan, and a shareholder. Thx for the comment.
dgierl
...
written by dgierl, February 04, 2011
One "soon to be producer", (2012), is Rubicon minerals (RMX on TSX and RBY in US). They are in the Red Lake area (controlling about 40% of Red Lake) and have a big discovery in their Phoenix project. The NI 43-101 is only in the inferred category until they update from the results of their 2 bulk samples sometime this quarter. The writer of the 43-101 also went on to say there was a potential of 13-16 million ounces of gold. Also by the end of the quarter, they will have their preliminary economic assessment to mine. This deposit is high grade like the Cambell and Red Lake mines of Gold Corp. The CEO often compares the RBY discover with the Cambell mine.

Of course anyone should perform their own due diligence and not take my word for it. There is quite a bit of information one the RMX web site, "http://www.rubiconminerals.com/" and on the "Yahoo RBY message board".


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BullionBullsCanada.com is not a registered investment advisor - Stock information is for educational purposes ONLY. Bullion Bulls Canada does not make "buy" or "sell" recommendations for any company. Rather, we seek to find and identify Canadian companies who we see as having good growth potential. It is up to individual investors to do their own "due diligence" or to consult with their financial advisor - to determine whether any particular company is a suitable investment for themselves.

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