ASX gold stocks Saracen Mineral Holdings Ltd (ASX: SAR), St Barbara Ltd (ASX: SBM) and Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST) are all among the top five movers on the ASX today.

Why Are Gold Miners Popular?

Gold is an asset class that typically gains more attention when investors are worried about the state of the share market. It is traditionally viewed as a “safe haven” when a bear market looks likely.

One of the easiest ways to gain exposure to gold is through investing in ASX gold miners like Saracen and Northern Star. These two companies, along with St Barbara, are all up more than 3.5% today, with Saracen up nearly 6%.

It may be inferred from this that investors are concerned about the direction that the economy is heading. With falling house prices, an escalating trade war and the possibility of rate cuts as soon as this week, it’s understandable that investors are heading for something a bit safer. But, are gold miners all they’re cracked up to be?

Past Performance

While the share price of these gold miners can be very volatile, the long-term performance can be impressive. Over a five-year period, Northern Star shares are up 777%, while Saracen shares are up more than 800% and St Barbara shares are more than 1,700% higher.

This suggests that if you’re going to get involved with gold miners, it is best to opt for a long-term hold rather than regular trading.

Over the last five years, large gold miners have tended to perform better than small gold miners. For example, Resolute Mining Limited (ASX: RSG), with a market capitalisation of around $850 million, has seen a 93% increase in its share price over the five-year period compared to the 777% return of Northern Star, a $6 billion company.

Should You Invest in Gold Miners?

It’s important to remember that past performance is in no way indicative of future performance and these companies are price-takers. While these gold miners have made impressive gains in the past, they may not continue to do so.

Having said that, there is some merit to having exposure to gold in times of uncertainty in the share market and it may not hurt to have some small level of exposure. If you’re going to invest in gold miners, it may be best to avoid smaller, more speculative companies and stick to the gold mining blue chips like Northern Star or St Barbara.

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Disclaimer: Any information contained in this article is limited to general financial/investment advice only. The information has not taken into account your specific needs, goals or objectives, so please consider consulting a licenced and trusted adviser before acting on the information. Please read The Rask Group’s Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information. This article is authorised by Owen Raszkiewicz of The Rask Group, which is a corporate authorised representative No. 1264179 of Strawman Pty Ltd (ACN: 610 908 211) (AFSL: 501 223).

Disclosure: At the time of writing, Max does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.