Investing in gold stocks

They’re celebrated as a safe haven, but geopolitical shifts may affect mining profits.

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Gold has long been hailed as a safe fallback for investors in Australia — especially those looking to diversify and hedge against inflation. But the companies responsible for this flashy commodity aren’t immune to risk and must be mindful of economic and geopolitical fluctuations in the countries they operate in. Here's what you need to know before investing in gold stocks.

What are gold stocks?

Gold stocks are stocks from companies involved in the mining and production of gold. The category is heavily dominated by mining companies, but investors in Australia can also back gold streaming and royalty companies: companies that fund mining efforts in exchange for the opportunity to buy gold at a set price in the future.

Gold stocks are one way for investors in Australia to gain access to this historically significant commodity, but there are also other ways to invest, including gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and purchasing physical bullion and coins.

Why invest in gold stocks?

Gold stocks can help diversify and stabilize your portfolio while simultaneously representing the cultural and historical significance of gold. Simply put: gold is valuable. It was valuable thousands of years ago, and it’s valuable now. It predates modern currency and its price tends to move independently of the stock market, strengthening its diversifying properties.

Historically, the price of gold has risen in tandem with the cost of living. This makes it a powerful hedge against inflation. It also tends to perform well in a down market as people fall back on the security of gold and cash in times of economic uncertainty. For an example of this phenomenon in action, look no further than the 1930s — when the market crashed, the purchasing power of gold skyrocketed.

With its ability to weather highs and lows and its inverse relationship to stocks, gold makes for a solid portfolio stabilizer.

Gold stocks

Since gold mining is an international enterprise, be prepared to invest in companies headquartered outside Australia:

What ETFs track the gold category?

Stocks aren’t the only option for investors in Australia interested in gold — there are numerous ETFs that track the gold category. These ETFs follow numerous sub-categories of the industry, including mining companies, exploration companies and the asset itself:

  • VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX)
  • BetaShares Global Gold Miners ETF (MNRS)
  • BetaShares Gold Bullion ETF (QAU)
  • ETFS Physical Gold (GOLD)
  • Perth Mint Gold (PMGOLD)

Outside of stocks and ETFs, there’s also the option of purchasing physical gold, including coins, ingots and bars. If you plan to buy physical gold, make sure you have a secure place to store it before you invest.

Risks of investing in gold

Most gold stocks are vulnerable to the same risks as other mining stocks, namely: economic shifts, geopolitical changes and natural disasters.

Where a mine is located factors heavily into its potential profitability, with many mining companies managing international operations. The political climate of the country in which a gold mine is located can affect material prices and businesses processes.

Gold mining companies also need to contend with Mother Nature. Natural disasters, while uncommon, may sideline mine operations for months, depending on the extent of the damage.

Compare trading platforms

To buy gold stocks, you’ll need a brokerage account in Australia. Narrow down your options by comparing features and fees.

Name Product Standard brokerage fee Inactivity fee Markets International
eToro Share Trading (US stocks)
US$0
US$10 per month if there’s been no login for 12 months
US shares, ETFs
Yes
Zero brokerage share trading on US stocks with trades as low as $50.
Join the world’s biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
Superhero share trading
$5
No
ASX shares, ETFs
No
Pay zero brokerage on all Australian ETFs.
Trade ASX stocks with a flat $5 commission fee and a low minimum investment of just $100.
ThinkMarkets Share Trading
$8
No
ASX shares, ETFs
No
Limited offer: Get 5 free ASX trades when you open a new account with ThinkMarkets before June 30, 2021 (T&Cs apply).
Buy and sell CHESS sponsored ASX shares with $0 brokerage on your first 5 trades. Only $8 flat fee brokerage thereafter, plus enjoy free live stock price data on an easy to use mobile app.
Bell Direct Share Trading
$15
No
ASX shares, mFunds, ETFs
No
⭐ Finder Exclusive: Get 5 free stock trades and unlimited ETF trades until July 31, 2021 when you join Bell Direct.
Bell Direct offers a one-second placement guarantee on market-to-limit ASX orders or your trade is free, plus enjoy extensive free research reports from top financial experts.
IG Share Trading
Finder Award
IG Share Trading
$8
$50 per quarter if you make fewer than three trades in that period
ASX shares, Global shares
Yes
$0 brokerage for US and global shares plus get an active trader discount of $5 commission on Australian shares.
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
Saxo Capital Markets (Classic account)
$6.99
No
ASX shares, Global shares, Forex, CFDs, Margin trading, Options trading, ETFs
Yes
Acess 19,000+ stocks on 37 exchanges worldwide
Low fees for Australian and global share trading, no inactivity fees, low currency conversion fee and optimised for mobile.
CMC Markets Stockbroking
$11
No
ASX shares, Global shares, mFunds, ETFs
Yes
$0 brokerage on global shares including US, UK and Japan markets.
Trade up to 9,000 products, including shares, ETFs and managed funds, plus access up to 15 major global and Australian stock exchanges.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Important: Share trading can be financially risky and the value of your investment can go down as well as up. “Standard brokerage” fee is the cost to trade $1,000 or less of ASX-listed shares and ETFs without any qualifications or special eligibility. If ASX shares aren’t available, the fee shown is for US shares. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.

Bottom line

No investment is free from risk, and gold stocks are no exception. Before you buy in, weigh the potential benefits against the risks to determine whether gold stocks are a practical addition to your portfolio.

Compare brokerage account features and fees to find the trading platform best suited to your investment goals and budget.

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