ETF Cheat Sheet: Precious Metals

by on January 30, 2013 | ETFs Mentioned:

Precious metals are one of the rarest and most valuable commodities in the world, making them a popular investment tool for long-term buy-and-hold and short-term investors alike. Typically, this asset class has appeal as a safe haven, since its returns are generally greater in periods of high market volatility. Besides the commodity’s inherent use as a store of value, precious metals are also used in a number of manufacturing applications. Although gold is perhaps the most popular precious metal, palladium, platinum, and silver are also viable and potentially lucrative options to round out a portfolio’s commodity exposure [see our Commodity Guru ETFdb Portfolio].

For investors looking to establish a tactical tilt towards this particular subset of the commodities market or for those who simply wish to further diversify their portfolios, there are a number of  ETPs that offer exposure to this lucrative corner of the market. The Precious Metals ETFdb Category includes more than 20 exchange-traded products, which provide both broad and metal-specific exposure to precious metals.

The Pro member download from the Precious Metals ETFdb Category page can be used to highlight the Precious Metals ETFs with the lowest expenses, highest dividend yields, and best historical performance [see a sample Excel download here; Pro members can download more than 60 ETFdb Category pages and 200 ETFdb Types pages with a free 7-day trial].

Precious Metals ETFdb Category
Number of ETFs 22
ER Range 0.25% to 1.00%
Total Assets $100 billion
As of 1/29/2013

Cheapest Precious Metals ETFs

Some funds charge as little as 25 basis points while others have expense ratios of up to 1.00% annually.

The cheapest Precious Metals ETF is the COMEX Gold Trust (IAU) at 0.25%, followed by the E-TRACS UBS Bloomberg CMCI Gold ETN (UBG) and the Physical Silver Shares (SIVR) at 0.30%.

[Use the free ETF Screener to filter ETFs by sector and region exposure, as well as expenses and volume]

Commission Free Precious Metals ETFs

There are no ETFs in the Precious Metals ETFdb Category that are eligible for commission free trading.

Most Heavily Traded Precious Metals ETF

On an average day, the ETFs in the Precious Metals ETFdb Category trade more than 26 million shares. The most heavily traded ETF in this category is the iShares Silver Trust (SLV), which has an average daily volume of about 11 million shares.

Realtime Ratings: Precious Metals ETFs
Metric Top ETF Rating
Liquidity iShares Silver Trust (SLV) A+
Expenses COMEX Gold Trust (IAU) A+
Performance Pure Beta Precious Metals ETN (BLNG) A+
Volatility RBS Gold Trendpilot ETN (TBAR) A+
Dividend n/a  
Concentration n/a  

[Get access to Realtime Ratings for 1,400+ ETFs with a free 7-day trial to ETFdb Pro]

Best Performing Precious Metals ETFs

The performance of Precious Metals ETFs is all over the board, especially during the last year. As of January 29, 2013, the best performing Precious Metals ETFs are as follows:

Best Performers
1 Year Physical Palladium Shares (PALL) +6.32%
3 Years Physical Silver Shares (SIVR) +84.53%
5 Years Silver Trust (SLV) +83.15%
As of 1/29/2013

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.