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Tickers in this Article: FCX, ABX, GFI, NEM, GG
With the Dow surging up over 7,300, along with the first faint signs of hope for the economy, it's time to check in on some gold stocks. Gold futures stood at $924 per ounce, and while this is off from the vaunted $1,000 an ounce benchmark, gold's run doesn't appear to be over. Gold stocks should also benefit from robust gold prices.

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Gold Goes Both Ways
Gold is a precious metal, not a simple commodity, and it occupies a unique place in the economic world and in the hearts of investors. Despite low inflation, gold served as a hard-asset haven when the economy tanked last year, and has a built-in appeal should future inflation trouble the economy. Gold stocks, of course, are not a direct play like bullion, coins or even futures, and they have followed the stock market down in the last year. To investigate the gold market further, let's look at a group of five gold stocks. (Find out which futures, options, or funds will fit your commodity portfolio in How To Invest In Commodities.)

Freeport McMoran
Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold, Inc. (NYSE:FCX) is regarded by many investors as a mostly copper commodity stock, but its substantial gold mining and its large size make it worth a look. The company took a huge write-down for carrying goodwill and inventories last year, and does not project robust earnings for 2009, but it should rebound nicely in 2010. The stock has been battered from a high of $127 to a low of $15, and is now trading at around $37 per share. FCX suspended its dividend and has had ongoing trouble with falling copper prices, so wait for its earnings to register solidly for a quarter or so before getting on board. When Freeport regains its footing, it will continue as a long-term powerhouse.

Gold Fields
Gold Fields Limited
(NYSE:GFI) stock has held up better than FCX. GFI's stock is in the $12 range, after hitting a high of $16 and a low of $4, but the company has a steady earnings profile. GFI was recently cited as one of the companies poised to benefit from impending inflation due to the government's potentially excessive stimulus package. In addition, there was a note detailing the company's intent to boost its mining production of gold over the next five years. The stock could have a nice run.

Barrick Gold
Barrick Gold Corporation
(NYSE:ABX) took a recent fourth-quarter charge of $773 million, and has scaled down its outlook for 2009. Though the company's revenue went up 10% in that period, estimates for '09 and '10 look fairly flat. Perhaps ABX is weighed down by the sluggishness in its copper, as the company's stock doesn't look like it is ready to ignite as quickly as Gold Fields might. With that said, Barrick is still a solid company in the long term.

Newmont Mining
Newmont Mining Corporation
(NYSE:NEM) has seen its stock hold up better than Freeport McMoran's, as at $38 it is trading nearly in the middle of its 52-week range of $21.17 to $55.15. Its revenue has held steady, with its gold carrying along its heavy alloy production and industrial metals such as copper, which is something that didn't happen for Freeport and Barrick. Newmont's estimates for the next couple of years look very good, and its stock is still at attractive levels for the long term.

GoldCorp (NYSE:GG), a Vancouver, Canada-based gold company, had a similar problem with its base metals taking out some of its gold profit. The company is still expected to do very well in the next couple of years, with its costs coming down and the continuing robust price of gold. In addition, GoldCorp had a noncash bonanza from foreign exchange, practically a windfall in this economy with so many companies having massive write-downs. (Can return on equity help you distinguish the profit machines from the inefficient clunkers? Find out in Keep Your Eyes On The ROE.)

Golden Plays?
Gold always has the potential to be volatile, as it will act and react to economic events as well as mining developments and trends. However, it's hard to see the price of gold reversing itself in the next few years, so carefully selecting from this group or even looking at exchange-traded funds (ETFs) for gold are good ways to invest. Of the stocks discussed, Gold Fields stands out, while Newmont and Gold Corp are still solid companies despite some drag from copper. Barrick and Freeport McMoran, on the other hand, may take longer to bounce back. The copper commodity price-industrial metal drag is something to watch on these stocks, but if you buy into gold, thousands of years of human civilization say you won't go wrong.

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