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Inside the Market Gold stocks to surge as much as 90% this year: fund manager

Gold bars are displayed at bullion house in Mumbai.

ARKO DATTA/REUTERS

Gold will surge to new highs this year, a push upward that will cause a big rally in the depressed shares of precious metals miners, says John Hathaway, portfolio manager at New-York based Tocqueville gold fund.

How good might it get for gold miners? Pretty stupendous, in his view. Mr. Hathaway believes that when gold starts to trade sustainably above the $2,000 U.S an ounce level, shares could run up by 60 per cent to 90 per cent.

It isn't unexpected that a gold fund manager is wildly bullish on the commodity, after all he's talking his book. But Mr. Hathaway is one of the better regarded money managers in the space, so what he says is worth some attention. He's up more than 18 per cent annually over the past decade, so he's right far more often than he's wrong.

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"Gold needs to rise only 15 per cent to trade at a new high. We believe that this is in the cards for 2013, and that such a move will be driven by the continuation of negative real interest rates and heightened concerns over the direction of monetary and fiscal affairs in all western democracies," he writes in his latest investment commentary.

His predicted gold share price rise is for the XAU, or Philadelphia gold index, which represents many of the more actively traded miners in North America.

Part of the bullish case for gold stocks is that they are hated at the moment, with investor sentiment "extremely negative" and similar to mid-2012 when gold was trading about $100 below current levels. In other words, the metal has gone up, but mining stocks have lagged.

If gold continues upward in 2013, it will be lucky 13 for the monetary metal, because it's risen on an annual basis for the past 12 years. Few markets consistently go up, and that should make investors cautious. The record high was $1,901 posted in mid- 2011.

But Mr. Hathaway figures changes are underway in the gold mining industry that should cheer investors. Some of the serial wealth destroyers in executive suites have been turfed out and the new managers are more mindful of the need to make better capital allocation decisions. Costs of new projects are also beginning to level out, another positive.

What does Mr. Hathaway own in his fund? Here are his top stock positions, as of the end of last year's third quarter: Eldorado Gold, Goldcorp, Royal Gold, Silver Wheaton, Newmont Mining, Randgold Resources, Osisko Mining, Yamana Gold, and Franco-Nevada.

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