If you own any, it might seem that gold stocks have been underwater for a long time, and that the bull market is over.
Yet, the chart below tells me that likely as not, those with the courage to buy when others panic will be the big winners in gold.
It shows that those who bought gold stocks in '74-'75 when everyone else was buying eventually made money…. but those who bought when others were selling in '76 went on to make a killing.
So recently, while veteran gold investors are little concerned and see the markdowns as a buying opportunity, it's raised the ire of more than a few newer investors.
The extent and duration of the selloff in gold equities has spurred much speculation about the health of the trend, summed up neatly as, "Does it mean the bull market is over?"
The drivers for gold are far from over, which will eventually propel stock prices higher.
History shows that lagging equities during a gold bull market are par for the course.
The chart below, comparing the current gold equities downturn with the one experienced during the middle of the last great gold bull market of the '70s, shows a similarity;
From April 1973 through July 1976, gold stocks as a group initially tripled in value – and then gave it all back.
You can see that the latest retracement is very similar in nature, though the initial climb was smaller and the downfall shorter.
It goes without saying that sentiment for gold stocks during the two-year selloff that commenced in 1974 was abysmal. Worry grew as stocks got cheaper and cheaper – and then cheaper still.
Even though the gold price was also falling, cries that the bull market in gold stocks was over grew. It seemed there was no money to be made in gold stocks.
Ultimately, the selloff did not end the trend. Gold resumed its climb in early 1976, and gold stocks mimicked the ascent.
Then, in 1979, the mania started for both precious metals and the equities, culminating in the blow-off top of January 1980.
In retrospect, that 40-month retracement was one big fake-out.
My personal takeaway from this chart: those with the mettle to buy when others take flight will be the big winners this time, too.
As in any investment, knowledge is key. Sure, the buyers in '74-'75 made money eventually. But those who bought when others were selling in '76 did far better.