Time To Trade Your Gold For Platinum

| About: ETFS Physical (PPLT)

Since 2011, gold prices have been rising a lot, while platinum went down significantly, as can be seen on chart 1. One of the reasons for this drop is weaker industrial demand due to the economic crisis. Other reasons are unwinding of funds and China's economic growth slowing down.

Platinum can be classified as a precious metal due to its rarity (30 times rarer than gold), but it's also an industrial metal (high heat and corrosion resistance). So it doesn't hold up as well as gold during a crisis. The reason why platinum should be more expensive as gold is because platinum is very difficult to mine.

click to enlarge

platinum vs gold

Chart 1: Platinum (NYSEARCA:PPLT) vs. Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD)

Although platinum has been weaker in 2011, I think now is the perfect time to diversify out of gold into platinum. Historically the platinum/gold ratio has been higher than 1, as can be seen on chart 2. Platinum did especially well during the commodity boom years from 2000 to 2006. So it wouldn't surprise me that platinum could outperform gold going forward in 2012. But there is more to this. I see 2 near term catalysts that can propel platinum to higher spheres.

platinum vs gold

Chart 2: Platinum/Gold Ratio

The first catalyst can be found in South Africa. South Africa is the largest platinum producer of the world and supplies 80% of world platinum production. There has been bad news about nationalization and strikes in the South African mining industry, which lead to supply shortages. Also, mining expenses were up 30% in 2011. I wouldn't buy into South African platinum mines as there are huge political risks associated with South Africa. If you do want a pure platinum play I recommend Stillwater Mining (NYSE:SWC) in Canada which notes at a P/E of only 11. I highly advise to buy the physical metal though, as energy costs are going up dramatically for these platinum mines.

The second catalyst is a great one. Eric Sprott, who is always on the look for bargains, is creating a Platinum & Palladium ETF (NYSEARCA:SPPP) with a value of $US 115 million. I can't blame him as now is the exact right time to buy platinum. The ETF is not available yet, but you can already buy platinum with ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (PPLT).

Disclosure: I am long PPLT, SWC, GLD, PHYS, PSLV.