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What Happened Since The GDXJ Had Its EPIC Rebalancing?

February 8, 2018

In the first half of 2017, the GDXJ (VanEck Junior Gold Miners ETF) went through an EPIC rebalancing for junior gold mining stocks, that created a once in a few years opportunity. There was a huge tsunami of capital that flowed into the GDXJ, causing the GDXJ to push up really close to the 20% ownership its Canadian listed gold stocks. We are nearing the 1-year anniversary since the epic rebalancing. There were about 18 of these Canadian junior gold mining stocks that GDXJ was close to triggering the takeover intent [1]. This is something an ETF manager does want. What ensued next was an epic sell-off of junior gold mining stocks. The individual gold mining stocks had their holdings significantly reduced in the fund, in order to reduce ownership interest in the companies and its new holding rules.


When you go through the SEC filings of the GDXJ and you can see how investor sentiment has changed for the GDXJ, even as gold prices are up. The assets under management dropped by $1 billion dollars, as outlined in our chart below.  But maybe it shouldn’t be, the GDXJ is down 6.44% since January 2017 in relation to GLD which is up 13.47% [2]. Have investors turned their back on the GDXJ? No, fund flows are up as of February 2, 2018, to the June 30th filings. The GDXJ continue to provide investors and gold stock analysts the volume necessary (average 11 million shares last 3 months) to consider having it as a component in the portfolio particularly if they do not want to go through the weeds of identifying winning gold mining stocks.


When we look at the table we built to compare the three months change in the GDXJ holdings, it is more pronounced how the GDXJ dramatically changed over the three-month period. The top 10 holdings are all new mining stocks, and it is both gold mining stocks and silver mining stocks. In fact, the top holding was a silver mining stock, Pan American Silver.


There were winners in the GDXJ rebalance with new names added to the ETF, that weren’t in the portfolio before. When we put together the graph below to see the change in holdings, there were more than 15 new gold and silver mining companies added to the ETF. This change resulted in the holdings go up to 73 by June 30, 2017, up from 57 holdings on March 30, 2017[3]. We should point out, the GDXJ owned GDX (Gold Miner ETF), which resulted in owning a smaller percentage of the larger gold mining stocks in the ETF.


What a difference only 9 months makes in terms of country allocations between the GDXJ from March 2017 to December 2017.  Companies from Australia, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States all experienced significant increases to the ETF.  Holdings from Canada experienced a significant drop-off in being added to the GDXJ. The GDX ETF has been completely eliminated so it allowed other countries to have an increased weighting in the ETF. As you will see in our charts below.


Home country bias happens all the time with investors. They tend to have more investments in the country they live in when most of the economic activity happens outside of their own country. It can also put investors more exposed to specific sectors because a country does not have a large number of publicly listed companies across multiple industries. The Canadian and Australian exchanges are heavily influenced by materials and financial services. In contrast to the S&P 500, which has broad industry exposure, Newmont Mining is the primary gold mining stock.



Now that the GDXJ holds larger market capitalization gold mining stocks, it creates a HUGE opportunity for gold stock analysts that are willing to roll up their sleeves, just a bit. Developers and up and coming junior mining producers present significant opportunities because the GDXJ won’t pick them up now until they are larger in market capitalization size. There are a number of streaming companies as well that are NOT listed on the GDXJ but are fast growers.  Look through the value chain. 


Is there an opportunity for publicly traded asset managers or brokerage firms, or drillers that could be added to the GDXJ or other gold mining stock ETFs. The reason is simple, they generate a material amount of the revenue from junior gold mining stocks, so why would they not include them? If they are willing to include royalty companies that are generating revenue from gold mining stocks, then why would they not include these other businesses? No one is talking about this opportunity. But there are a number of key players in the junior gold mining sector that have the potential to be added to a gold ETF. I am not sure when it will happen, but companies that have direct revenue exposure to the industry should be considered. Why? The gold stocks pay dividends, have consistent revenue streams and cash flows, just like the royalty and streaming companies.


If gold were to go up 50%, I think the odds of another rebalance happening with the GDXJ, are probably greater than 75%. The GDXJ has had now had to re-adjust its holdings because of the amount of tsunami of capital flowing in twice now, 2017 and 2014 This is normal, but it is an unspoken risk and more important opportunity to capitalize on ETF’s adding more name into an ETF or picking up names that are getting dumped because of ownership requirements.


JNUG offers triple leverage to junior gold mining stocks. As our chart below outlines, JNUG invests in the GDXJ and Sprott Junior Miners ETF (SGDJ). We will see a rush from traders if gold spikes because the short-term moves can be massive. The Sprott Junior Gold Miners ETF could also be impacted in the next run up because of inflows from JNUG. You could be impacted by another re-balance like 2017 GDXJ rebalance from investor flow and other ETFs that buy into your ETF aggressively. We will have to wait and see how JNUG buying into the GDXJ and SGDJ impacts them in the next gold run-up.


  • Know when an ETF does it annual or semi-annual re-balance before you buy into it because it

  • Identify winning names that can be added to an index because eventually they will.

    • Does the company have the potential to turn into a current billion market cap company?

      • If yes, odds are in favour of potential of being added to an ETF

  • If you have a company in an index name, it could get its holding sliced in half like a watermelon, with you end up holding the bag.

  • JNUG could impact two junior gold mining ETFs in the next gold run up (SGDJ & GDXJ)

  • Does the holdings inside the ETF accurately match what you are trying to get exposure to, otherwise there maybe names inside the ETF that maybe better or worse to own?

  • Look at more than 1 ETF to determine what is the best for you and compare them to make sure the ETF meets your goal.



We have a saying at First Macro Capital, “Know what is in inside, and Know why you own it

Paul Farrugia, BCom. Paul is the President & CEO of First Macro Capital. He helps his readers identify gold & silver mining stocks, including energy metals stocks that you can hold for the long-term. He provides a checklist to find winning mining producer stocks.


[1] Zerohedge

[2] Google Finance

[3] Edgar


The information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. It is not designed to meet your personal financial situation – we are not investment advisors nor do we give personalized investment advice. The opinions expressed herein are those of the publisher and are subject to change without notice. It may become outdated and there is no obligation to update any such information.

Investments recommended in our publications, blog posts, emails, online communications, or any online contents published by any party of First Macro Capital and its affiliated companies should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company in question. You shouldn’t make any decision based solely on what you read here.

First Macro Capital writers and publications do not take compensation in any form for covering those securities or commodities.

First Macro Capital employees and agents of First Macro Capital and its affiliate companies do not own any of the ETFs mentioned in this article at the writing of this article.

Paul Farrugia, BCom. Paul is the President & CEO of First Macro Capital. He helps his readers identify mining stocks to hold for the long-term. He provides a checklist to find winning gold and silver mining producer stocks, including battery metals.

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