Junior Gold/Silver Miners Surge (XRA, TGD, AXU, THM, GSS, ASM, FSM, AUMN, KGN, AEM, GG, IAG, GOLD, RGLD, GLD, GDX, GDXJ)

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Of the top 25 price gainers today, 15 are gold or silver miners, most are the juniors, and all are up about 9%-12%. Recent weak US employment news and a pricey dollar-euro exchange is sending investors back into gold, and there’s no cheaper play than the small mining companies. Most still rely on a combination of borrowing and venture funding with occasional production revenue.

The leading gainer is Exeter Resource Corp. (AMEX: XRA) which is up 12.6% at $2.05 in a 52-week range of $1.69-$5.79. The exploration stage company looks for gold and copper and owns a 100% interest in a project in Chile. The Canadian-based company reported no revenue in 2010.

Timmins Gold Corp. (AMEX: TGD) is up 12.6% at $1.89 in a 52-week range of $1.45-$3.44. Another Canadian-based development stage company with properties in Mexico, Timmins posted about $91 million in revenues in 2011.

Alexco Resource Corp. (AMEX: AXU) is up 11.3% at $5.12 in a 52-week range of $4.23-$9.32. Another Canadian firm with operations in Canada, the company reported revenue of about $42 million in 2011.

International Tower Hill Mines Ltd. (AMEX: THM) is up 11.6% at $3.62 in a 52-week range of $2.40-$8.58. The Canadian-based company owns a 100% interest in an Alaskan gold project and reported no revenue in 2011.

Golden Star Resources Ltd. (AMEX: GSS) is up 10.4% at $1.17 in a 52-week range of $0.90-$3.12. Based in Colorado, the companies holds interest in African and South American mines and reported revenue of $471 million in 2011.

Avino Silver & Gold Mines Ltd. (AMEX: ASM) is up 10.5% at $1.36 in a 52-week range of $1.12-$3.36. The Canadian firm has interests in Canada and Mexico and reported no revenue in 2011.

Fortuna Silver Mines Inc. (NYSE: FSM) is up 10.6% at $4.29 in a 52-week range of $3.10-$7.67. The Peruvian-based firm owns gold and silver properties in Mexico and Peru. The company reported revenue of $110 million in 2011.

Golden Minerals Co. (AMEX: AUMN) is up 9.8% at $3.82 in a 52-week range of $3.24-$20.99. The Colorado-based company holds properties in Mexico and South America and reported revenue of about $1.8 million in 2011.

Keegan Resources Inc. (AMEX: KGN) is up 9.3% at $3.59 in a 52-week range of $2.35-$9.63. The Canadian firm explores for gold in West Africa and reported no revenue in 2011.

Some larger gold miners getting a good boost today are Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. (NYSE: AEM) up 8.9%, Goldcorp Inc. (NYSE: GG) up 9.6%, Iamgold Corp. (NYSE: IAG) up 9.2%, Randgold Resources Ltd. (NASDAQ: GOLD) up 9.3%, and Royal Gold Inc. (NASDAQ: RGLD) up 10.8%.

Virtually all the junior miners’ stocks are trading nearer to their 52-week lows than to the highs, emphasizing the speculative nature of these investments. That’s true of some of the larger miners as well. Only Royal Gold, which does no mining but instead takes shares of production in mines operated by many miners, is trading closer to its high than to its low. In that respect, it is more of a pure play on gold than on mining companies.

Speaking of gold plays, the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (AMEX: GLD) is up more than 4% at $157.81 in a 52-week range of $143.97-$185.85. The two mining company ETFs, Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (AMEX: GDX) and Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (AMEX: GDXJ) are up 6.6% and 6.9%, respectively today.

Paul Ausick

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