Is it possible to apply value investing to precious metals? Value investing seeks to exploit discrepancies between price and value. The price of precious metals is widely known, but what about its value? Does it make any sense to use value investing for precious metals such as gold? If so, how is it usually done?
Not really, in my opinion.
- Value investing deals with finding assets that under-priced relative to their expected cash flows
- PMs generally do not generate cash and their gains typically come from selling at a higher price
However, you might think that prices will change from supply/demand factors and make an investment based on your hypothesis that the true "value" of the PM is what you think it will be. Unless you take an very reductive point of view, this process is pretty far from typical value investing, which generally involves some sort of fundamental analysis of a firm's operations & management.
In the broadest interpretation, "value" means "what you get". You get gold, a dumb metal, instead of a company actively working towards making profit.
Problem is, right now the Buffett Indicator is off the charts; and the stock market is likely overvalued.
Also, if you measure the S&P500 in grams of gold, it is on the high side at roughly 60-70 grams.
Problem is, who's to say people will like gold in the future? Perhaps the trend of pricing the S&P higher relative to gold will continue. Maybe the 6g/index unit from the 1980's will never be seen again.
This is why value investment does not really apply; because the value of gold depends on how other people value it against other assets (or the currency) and nothing more. It might protect you against inflation, but only on the long term, if you use it in a well-diversified portfolio, and can stomach a 20-year fall (like 1980 to 2000).
Perhaps people will prefer something different, like cryptocurrency that is also in limited supply. Or real estate, which provides utility, not just inflation-adjustment or the adoption rush (but arguably real estate is also overvalued).