There is shortage of gold mining ETFs from which investors can choose, but that conversation is typically dominated by the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDX) and the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDXJ).
Investors have a small amount of silver miners ETFs to pick from and the dominant fund there is the Global X Silver Miners ETF (NYSEArca: SIL). SIL has average daily volume of almost 196,400 shares and $194.6 million in assets under management. More importantly, the ETF has joined its gold counterparts in rebounding over the past few weeks, posting a one-month gain of 11.2%. [Gold Mining ETF Tops 50-Day Line for First Time in 9 Months]
SIL has an often overlooked rival that investors may want to consider as well, the iShares MSCI Global Silver Miners ETF (NYSEArca: SLVP). The two ETFs share many of the same holdings such as Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW), Pan American Silver (NasdaqGS: PAAS), Hecla Mining (NYSE: HL) and Fresnillo Plc, but the two funds go about their business in different fashion. [Silver Mining ETFs: Cheap or Risky?]
SLVP is dominated by two stocks – Silver Wheaton and Mexico-based Industrias Penoles SAB. Those two stocks combine for 32.6% of SLVP’s weight. The iShares offering is also the cheaper of the two funds with an annual expense ratio of 0.39% compared to SIL’s fees of 0.65%.
SLVP’s significant exposure to Silver Wheaton (21.75%) has been a downer because the stock, like many of its large-cap gold peers, has tumbled this year. The company’s woes have been “exacerbated by the fact that the company does not hedge itself against fluctuations in gold and silver prices. Its revenues and profit margins are a direct function of prevailing market prices because the cost of acquiring gold and silver from mining companies is fixed through long term contracts,” according to Trefis.
On the other hand, it cannot be forgotten that Silver Wheaton is the preferred silver stock for many investors because the company is more a royalty play than a play on silver exploration. Silver Wheaton owns gold and silver properties where other miners do the heavy lifting and pay Silver Wheaton roylaties. For example, Goldcorp (NYSE: GG), a GDX holding, operates at Silver Wheaton’s San Dimas property in Mexico.
As the past month has shown, SLVP is intimately tied to Silver Wheaton’s fortunes as the ETF has popped 10% while the stock is up 11.2%. Bottom line: As simple as it sounds, SLVP and SIL constituents need higher silver prices to move higher themselves. Even with the recent bump higher, silver futures are still trading near levels that are just above break-even for the miners. Pan American recently said on CNBC it could pare production if prices fall further.
iShares MSCI Global Silver Miners ETF
ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post.