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Stock Strategist Industry Reports

Gold Steady in Face of Rate Hikes

We maintain our view that the investment case for the yellow metal will weaken.

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At its June meeting, the U.S. Federal Reserve once again raised the federal-funds target rate by 25 basis points, to 1.75%-2%. In addition, the majority of officials at the central bank now expect four rate hikes in 2018, whereas at the March meeting they were evenly split between three and four hikes. The June rate increase was largely expected by the market, as options prices implied a more than 91% probability before the announcement. The market also appears largely unfazed by an additional rate hike this year, as gold prices remained largely flat.

This rate hike doesn’t change our view that the investment case for gold will weaken. We continue to expect the gold price to fall to $1,225 per ounce by the end of 2018 as the rising nominal interest rate environment increases the opportunity cost of holding gold. Additionally, although the recent rise in inflation bodes well for gold, we think that higher inflation will only spur a more rapid pace of rate hikes. As a result, our fair value estimates and economic moat ratings for all the gold miners we cover remain intact.

Most committee members continue to anticipate the federal-funds rate rising to around 3% longer term. Furthermore, despite continued weakness in inflation in the near term, the committee continues to expect long-run inflation of about 2%. As a result, the case for gold as an investment should remain weak in the longer term.

As investment demand falls, we expect that Chinese and Indian jewelry demand will fill the gap over the long term. However, the rise of consumer demand will take time, while investment demand can change rapidly, which means significant risk to gold prices in the near term.

Most gold miners appear fairly valued to us at this time. However, we do see a moderate amount of risk-adjusted upside in  Goldcorp (GG). The company is currently focused on its 20/20/20 growth plan to increase gold production by 20%, increase gold reserves by 20%, and decrease all-in sustaining costs by 20% by 2021. This plan holds some execution risk, which we believe leads to the discount at the current share price. We caution investors that near-term share price performance among all gold miners is likely to be rocky.

Kristoffer Inton does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.