Gold-focused mutual funds typically invest in gold-mining stocks, physical gold, and any security linked to the underlying metal's price.
The Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX)
The Tocqueville Gold Fund ("TGLDX) has been a consistent top performer in its category. It is one of the few mutual funds that invests a large portion of its assets directly in physical gold, which has less volatility than the stocks of gold mining companies. As of Dec. 31, 2015, the fund has 73% of its assets in foreign stocks, 6% in domestic stocks and nearly 15% in gold bullion. Its top holdings include physical gold, Detour Gold Corp. (TSX: DGC.TO), Franco-Nevada Corp. (NYSE: FNV) and Aqnico Eagle Mines Ltd. (NYSE: AEM). The fund lost 30.97% over the past year. It also returned -20.48% over the past five years -3.23% over the past 10 years. It has no sales load, but its 1.43% expense ratio is above average for its category.
Vanguard Precious Metals and Mining Fund (VGPMX)
The Vanguard Precious Metals and Mining Fund ("VGPMX") should be considered a top choice in this category because of its extremely low expense ratio. Its assets are diversified well beyond gold-related securities, with holdings in companies engaged in the exploration, mining and processing of gold, silver, diamonds, platinum, and other precious metals or minerals. The fund may invest up to 100% of its assets in foreign securities. As of Dec. 31, 2015, it held 85% of its assets in foreign stocks and 6% in domestic stocks. Its top holdings include Nevsun Resources Ltd. (NYSEMKT: NSU), Aqnico Eagle Mines and Randgold Resources Ltd. ADR (NASDAQ: GOLD). It is a no-load fund with one of the lowest expense ratios for its category, at 0.35%.
Fidelity Select Gold Portfolio (FSAGX)
Although its primary focus is on gold-related securities, the Fidelity Select Gold Portfolio ("FSAGX") is diversified into other precious metals and minerals, such as silver, platinum and diamonds. It invests a minimum of 80% of its assets in into gold-related securities as well as physical gold. It currently holds 90% of its assets in foreign securities and 8% in domestic securities. Among its top holdings are Randgold Resources ADR, Goldcorp Inc. (NYSE: GG), Newcrest Mining Ltd. and Franco-Nevada. The fund has an expense ratio of 0.93%.
U.S. Global Investors Gold & Precious Metals Fund (USERX)
U.S. Global Investors introduced the nation’s first no-load gold fund in 1974 and has been a consistent top performer since. The U.S. Global Investors Gold & Precious Metals Fund ("USERX") was one of best-performing gold-focused funds of 2015, only losing 14.66%. The fund invests primarily in companies engaged in the mining, fabrication and processing of precious metals and minerals including gold, silver, platinum and diamonds. It actively seeks opportunities in emerging markets that offer greater upside potential. As of Sept. 30, 2015, it held 79% of its assets in foreign securities, 6% in domestic securities and 9% in cash. Among its top holdings are Klondex Mines Ltd. (TSX: KDX.TO), Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd. (TSX: OR.TO), and Northern Star Resources Ltd. It has a 2.05% expense ratio, which is high for its category.