A few legendary influencers in investing are making huge bets right now on commodities, an area that's faced – and continues to face – some pretty strong headwinds. What are we to make of this? And how could this impact commodity prices?
Famed hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller recently made a $323 million bet on gold, now the largest position in his family office fund. It's also come to light that George Soros recently moved $2 million into coal producers Peabody Energy Corp. (NYSE: BTU) and Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE: ACI). Meanwhile, activist investor Carl Icahn took an 8.5% position in copper miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE: FCX), which we have in our U.S. Global Investors funds.
My friend Marc Faber, the widely respected Swiss investor and editor of the influential "Gloom, Boom & Doom Report," is now plugging for the mining sector and precious metals. Speaking to Bloomberg TV on Sept. 2, Faber claimed that investors are running low on safe assets and suggested they revisit mining companies:
If I had to turn anywhere where… the opportunity for large capital gains exists, and the downside is, in my opinion, limited, it would be the mining sectors, specifically precious metals and mining companies… like Freeport, Newmont, Barrick. They've been hammered because of falling commodity prices. Now commodities may still go down for a while, but I don't think they'll stay down forever.
Late last month, Freeport became the first major miner to announce production cuts in response to depressed copper prices, which have slipped around 19% since their 2015 high of $2.95 per pound in May. This reduction should remove an estimated 70,000 tonnes of copper from global markets, according to BCA Research, and eventually help support prices.
Platinum and palladium miners in South Africa, a leading producer of both metals, also announced job cuts and mine closures, as platinum has slipped more than 16% this year, and palladium 25%.