GLD vs. SLV: 2012 In Review

Precious metals investors have been on a wild ride this year, as economies pulled back and forth and a number of major events had these metals all over the board. This year saw the announcement of QE3, QE4 and the re-election of president Barack Obama; all of which had big implications for precious metals. But what many investors are concerned about is not necessarily how these commodities performed as a whole, but who outshined the rest. Below, we put the two most popular PMs, gold and silver, head-to-head to see who took the crown in 2012 [for more precious metals news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].

SPDR Gold Trust (ETF) (NYSEARCA:GLD)

GLD vs. SLV

The SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) is not only the largest commodity ETF in the world, it is the second-largest exchange traded product period. Its physically-backed structure has thrust it into popularity as a long-term hold, but it also has a strong liquidity for active traders. The iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV) is easily the most popular silver fund, with more than $10 billion in assets and trading roughly 10 million shares each day. Both funds are juggernauts in the commodity world, and have outperformed each other over various time periods.

As far as 2012 is concerned, there is no comparison; SLV dominated its larger counterpart. SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) was able to scrape up a handsome 9% on the year (note that SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) is up about 16%), while iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV) surged more than 20%. GLD may take the spotlight away from its silver sister, but its performance simply could not keep pace. In fact, SLV has outperformed in the trailing one, three and five years, as it has been enjoying a nice, but volatile, run higher [see also 3 Metals Outshining Gold].