The past couple of years have been brutal for precious metals mining stocks. Gold and silver went down a little, while the miners went down a lot - four times as much, to be exact. That's painful but not surprising. The miners, being in effect options on the underlying metals, tend to be a lot more volatile.
But volatility works both ways, and starting in November, gold began to rise while the miners began to rise more.
With January normally being a great month for precious metals, it's possible that the miners will be among the best-performing sectors for a while. It's also possible that the outperformance will have legs, as recent financial asset volatility sends capital pouring into safe haven assets.
On a related note, gold's performance hasn't been nearly as bad as it's seemed. Even in US dollar terms, it's up over the past three years and has returned an average of over 9% a year since 2003.