For the past couple of months, I've been writing about the difficulty in finding new quality income recommendations. The run-up in stock prices has wrung yield and value out of most quality issues.
I believe I've found a solution to the dearth of income opportunities. This solution - straightforward and easy to implement - can take a solid, blue-chip stock and double its income and yield. What's more, it can do it safely and repeatedly. In fact, one investment in the High Yield Wealth portfolio uses this solution to create income and yield in a market sector that's not known for producing income and yield - gold.
As I'm sure you know, gold was pummeled last week. OK, that's putting it mildly. Gold actually posted its largest two-day dollar drop ever, and its biggest percentage drop since 1980. Gold has subsequently rebounded, but prices are still down 26% from the 2011 highs.
So what happened?
I've heard various explanations. Central banks were liquidating gold. ETFs were liquidating gold. Hedge funds leveraged on gold were receiving margin calls. Deflation, not inflation, is the concern du jour. The weakening yen is making the dollar attractive again. Perhaps one, none or maybe all of the aforementioned explanations were a factor.
The takeaway is that gold really trades much more like stocks than most investors realize. What I mean is that gold prices are set on the margin by the last buyer and seller. Unlike with commodities, new supply and consumption has little impact on gold's price. Like stocks, gold is also impacted by rumor, sentiment change, technical breakdown and sector rotation, all of which influence perceived value. But there is a significant difference between stocks and gold. Gold doesn't generate or pay cash. Stocks do. Indeed, stocks are valued on their ability to generate cash - namely in the form of dividends.
Despite the hard sell-off and the fact it doesn't pay dividends, I still like gold. It has merit. Consumer-price inflation appears subdued, I'll grant you that. But let's not forget the Federal Reserve has tripled the monetary based over the past five years and continues to pump new money into the banking system at a rate of $85 billion each month.
The Fed's money creation is unprecedented, so how its easy-money policy will play out is yet to be determined. In short, gold is a hedge against monetary risk and is still an important portfolio component.
With that said, gold really isn't an appropriate investment from an income investor's perspective and doesn't really fit the mandate of the High Yield Wealth portfolio. But I've found a way around this shortcomings. Gold-mining stocks are a good proxy for gold, because their fortunes are obviously tethered to gold. Many gold-mining stocks have dropped with the price of gold, and a couple - Barrick Gold (ABX) and Newmont Mining (NEM) - offer superior yields. Barrick yields over 4% and Newmont yields over 5%.
But there is even a higher-yield, higher-income alternative in another gold-centric investment. I'm speaking of GAMCO Global Gold, Natural Resources & Income Trust (GGN). This closed-end fund invests in a plethora of gold mining and natural resource stocks. The focus, though, is on gold: nine of GAMCO's top 10 holdings are gold miners.
So while Barrick and Newmont yield 4% and 5%, respectively, GAMCO yields close to 14%. This is the upside of a market sell-off: it offers the opportunity to lower your cost basis and to capture additional yield and income.
So how is GAMCO able to generate a yield two to three times the yield of the gold-mining stocks it owns? Simple, by implementing the solution I refer to above, GAMCO is able to generate superior income and yield. The good news for investors is that GAMCO's income and yield are on sale. Over the life of the fund, which dates back to 2005, GAMCO shares have historically traded at a 2.7% premium to net asset value (NAV). The recent sell-off has dropped the share price far below NAV. Today, GAMCO trades at a 15% discount to NAV, an all-time discount.