***Please note that this does not constitute a stock recommendation for buy or sell. This is purely my own analysis and is to be taken as my own personal opinion and not to be taken as correct. Kindly do your own diligence in purchasing stocks.
Some shiny gold bars
Nearing the end of the year for 2016, I have been reviewing my CPF account and find that it is not growing as quick as I would like it to be. Despite the Dow Jones nearing the psychological barrier of 20,000 and the S&P hitting new highs, the STI is pretty flat which depicts the bleak outlook of the Singapore economy. As my ordinary account (OA) is above the amount of $20,000, I have been looking for opportunities to see if I am able to make my CPF money work harder. For those who are unaware, the Singapore government has decided to give 1% more for the first $60,000 in the CPF account, with only the first $20,000 in the OA applicable for it. In order words, the first $20,000 will earn 3.5%, while any excess amount in the OA will only earn you 2.5%. As the first $20,000 can’t be used for investments anyway, I am looking out for any available opportunities in the market which will allow me to earn >2.5% per annum. Due to various rules restricting the investments allowed to be made, there are not many options left. In addition, due to my current vested position in DBS, I do not have much money left allocated for stocks and bond investment. As such, I turn to the other option left, which is the amount allocated for gold. Furthermore, with such high valuations in the foreign stock markets and uncertainty in the near future, I believe that gold investing warrants a second look. Thus, I began to look at SPDR gold shares (O87). In addition, only 10% of the monies in the OA is allowed to be invested in gold.
SPDR Gold Shares is a gold only ETF, with its mandate clearly stated out on the website – “for the Shares to reflect the performance of the price of gold bullion, less the Trust’s expenses.” It is a trust which holds gold bullion and from time to time issues shares in baskets in exchange for deposits of gold and distributes gold in connection with the redemption of baskets (in other words an open ETF, however for retail investors there is no need to create baskets as the investment outlay is very high).
The general information on it are as follows (taken from SPDR Gold website below):
Sponsor : World Gold Trust Services, LLC
Trustee : BNY Mellon Asset Servicing
Custodian : HSBC Bank Plc
Exchange Listed : SGX, NYSE, BMV, TSE & SEHK
Board Lot size : 10 shares
Trading currency : USD
Ounces of Gold: 26,509,820.12
No. of shares: 277,300,000 (as at 31/12/2016) [assuming in circulation for all the exchanges]
Gold Spot Price: US$1,152.06 (as at 31/12/2016)
Gold Measurement Method: LBMA Gold Price
Net Expense Ratio: 0.40% of the daily NAV for Sponsor Fees, payable by the Trust
I have briefly skimmed through the prospectus and website and this is a relatively simple and straightforward Gold ETF. It has a trust structure which holds gold. As mentioned above, the NAV will just track the value of the gold. As and when necessarily, they will sell the gold in the vault to pay for the expenses above and whenever available, gold will be added or removed when authorized participants add new baskets to the ETF or when they are redeemed. Base on my understanding, the gold are stored in an allocated account, and only transferred to an unallocated account to facilitate gold transactions. According to bullionvault.com, allocated gold is gold owned outright by an investor and is stored, under a safekeeping or custody arrangement, in a professional bullion vault. On the other hand, unallocated gold is the property of the bank, and it is not protected from a bank’s insolvency. The number of shares provided in their website and above are freely floated in all the exchanges as confirmed in an email inquiry I sent them, but they are also not sure how many are available in SGX. I am unsure of how it actually works but I suppose there is not much impact as the number of shares I buy are quite minimal in the bigger scheme of things.
In the last week of 2016, I have bought 20 shares of SPDR gold shares at $108.39 and it has increased by approximately 1% as of the end of 2016. Previously when I started investing, I was under the influence of Warren Buffet’s believe that gold is just a piece of rock that doesn’t yield anything. However ever since starting trading in June, I have started to appreciate the value of gold and thus leading to my decision to buy the gold ETF. So here are a couple reasons why I bought some before the year end.
Rollercoaster 2016 year and uncertainty ahead
2016 has been an eventful year for the financial markets and the price of gold has risen quite a far bit throughout the year due to its image as a safe haven during uncertain times and fallen as well when risk appetite increased. With many equity indexes ending up for the year and making new record highs, it may seem odd for me to buy gold. “Be fearful when everyone is greedy and greedy when everyone is fearful”. Keeping Warren Buffet’s words in mind, this is a time to be fearful as records are broken and everyone is having a rosy picture ahead when there hasn’t been much global growth. There is quite a bit of uncertainty in terms of what Trump’s economic reform plans are, the storm brewing in Europe, the plans for Brexit. With this number of events filled with uncertainty just on the horizon, it is difficult to say that there is no problem and financial markets are doing well. As such, this is a reason to buy gold now and sell them during the crisis time when the value of it is higher. This is assuming that people still view gold as a safe haven holds true.
There is a great deal of expectation that Trump taking office will generate inflation. There are some people that view gold is a good hedge against inflation, and others who think otherwise. There also some who say that measuring inflation using CPI is a flawed approach and gold is a good hedge against inflation if not measured using CPI. These are mixed views and I have no idea which is correct and which is not. To me, I suppose the most important thing is people’s impression and sentiment of gold. The value that people place in gold. I think that to many people, gold holds an important role as a store of value, and that is good enough for me to buy it. I may not think so, but it does not matter as I am but a small fish swimming in the huge financial ocean. I will swim with the tide. As such, if it is a store of value as people ascribe it to be, I believe that gold will be somewhat a hedge against inflation. Whether it is or not, I do not know, but as long as people’s impression of gold holds, it should be okay to hold some gold.
Appreciation of USD/SGD
The trump rally and the mention of 3 rate hikes by the Fed in 2017 has resulted in a considerable run up of USD against all the other currencies. Also, during the presidential election campaign, Trump has said that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement was a bad idea. If the USA is not going to ratify it, it spell big problems for the Singapore economy. Furthermore, will tepid global economic growth, Singapore is not spared from it either as it is an export dependent economy. As such, there is much headwind for the SGD and thus, buying gold which is denominated in USD presents a greater value when I sell it to receive SGD in the future.
As such, I have decided to hold them for at least a year, but I am confident that I will be able to offload them during the year at a profit. I just need to overcome a return rate of 2.5%+2%=4.5% in order to do better than the CPF return rate. The additional 2% is to account for transaction costs. If the NAV hits $150, I will sell them immediately. I believe that gold is more of a strategic move of allocating money in the short term and I still don’t think that it should be held over a long time horizon. What are your thoughts on this? Let me know what you think in the comment box below.