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Visualizing Gold ETFs’ Record Inflows of 2020

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Gold ETF Inflows

Gold ETF Flows

The Briefing

  • Gold ETF inflows in 2020 amounted to $47.9B (877.1t), more than doubling 2019’s inflows
  • This marks the fifth straight year of inflows into gold ETFs, almost doubling the previous record inflows in 2016 of $24.1B (541.1t)

Gold ETFs See Record Inflows in 2020

Gold had a strong year with 25% returns, and gold ETF inflows followed, reaching a new record high of $47.9 billion in 2020.

Gold-backed and gold ETFs have increasingly become a vital part of the gold investment market, making up around two-thirds of global net inflows for investment demand in the precious metal.

While gold set new all-time highs around $2,075/oz in 2020, gold ETF inflows ($47.5B) almost doubled the previous record-year of inflows (2016, $24.1B), and eclipsed 2013’s record year of outflows ($-41.6B).

YearTotal Flows in TonnesTotal Flows in USD
200342.5t$0.1B
2004125.4t$1.5B
2005218.9t$3.3B
2006260.2t$4.8B
2007251.5t$5.6B
2008311.0t$11.2B
2009649.0t$19.3B
2010388.6t$14.8B
2011260.0t$11.8B
2012251.9t$17.1B
2013-887.1t$-41.6B
2014-149.3t$-5.0B
2015-129.3t$-3.5B
2016541.1t$24.1B
2017271.6t$9.8B
201870.1t$4.0B
2019398.3t$19.1B
2020877.1t$47.9B

Gold futures also saw increased participation in 2020, with aggregate open interest reaching yearly record-highs of $120.9B as investors and traders sought gold exposure.

North American Funds Represent Most Gold ETF Inflows

In terms of regionality, North American funds accounted for almost two-thirds of global net inflows from Q1-Q3’2020, reaching a total inflow of $31.9B for the year.

SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), the first U.S. gold ETF launched in 2004, made up the majority of North American inflows at $15.4B. Interestingly, this one ETF alone eclipsed Europe’s entire inflows for 2020 ($13.3B).

While Gold ETFs in Asia only reached $1.9B last year, their holdings saw the greatest percentage increase of all regions (49%) with seven new Chinese funds listed in 2020.

Gold ETFs are Driving Gold Investment Demand

Although flows turned negative in November ($-6.8B) and December ($-2.2B) of 2020, Gold ETF flows have returned positive for the first couple of weeks of 2021, with a $2.1B inflow as of Jan 15, 2021.

This return to positive ETF flows came as gold fell more than 5% from its $1,950 highs reached in early January. This could be a sign of gold ETF investors buying the dip, as gold potentially begins to turn upwards for the final two weeks of January.

Since gold ETFs make up such a large part of gold investment demand, keeping an eye on ETF flows can offer insight into where the precious metal might be headed.

»If you found this article interesting, you might enjoy this post on the ETFs: Visualizing the Expanse of the ETF Universe

Where does this data come from?

Source: World Gold Council
Details: The World Gold Council aggregates data from Bloomberg, ICE Benchmark Administration, and company filings.

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Ranked: The Performance of Restaurant Stocks on the NYSE

Restaurants are increasingly digitally driven, and this shift can be seen in the recent performance of the 18 restaurant stocks on the NYSE.

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restaurant stocks 12 month performance

The Briefing

  • In the last 12 months, the performance of restaurant stocks on the NYSE ranges from 90% to -21%
  • The average return for restaurant stocks has been 16.8%, underperforming the NYSE Composite’s 23.8% over the same time period.
  • Executing on a digital ecosystem has been a big driver of value for the best performers on the list

Restaurant Stocks on the NYSE

Restaurants, arguably more than other industries, have had to adjust swiftly to a new and unrecognizable landscape during the pandemic. And the level of preparedness towards adverse and unpredictable conditions reflects in the last 12 month (LTM) stock price performance of the 18 restaurant stocks on the NYSE.

The performance for this basket of stocks ranges from a high of 90% to a low of -21%. The companies that have rewarded shareholders are at the forefront of industry trends, doubling down on a digital ecosystem through concepts like membership programs, ghost kitchens, delivery, and mobile sales.

Winners and Losers

The vast division of stock price performance has a David and Goliath component to it in that the larger companies with deeper pockets have had the ability to invest in modern initiatives.

The top five performing stocks have an average market cap of $14 billion, while the bottom five possess an average of $630 million.

StockLast 12 Month PerformanceMarket Cap ($M)
Brinker International, Inc.90.85%$3,120
Shake Shack, Inc.88.63%$4,970
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.70.19%$40,580
Yum China Holdings, Inc.37.53%$25,090
Luby's, Inc.32.92%$98
Darden Restaurants, Inc.28.26%$17,900
Flanigan's Enterprises, Inc.16.10%$44
Yum! Brands, Inc.6.18%$31,060
Biglari Holdings Inc.2.90%$356
Cannae Holdings, Inc.-1.87%$3,420
McDonald's Corporation-1.88%$153,690
Restaurant Brands International, Inc.-2.81%$27,580
Aramark-4.82%$9,650
J. Alexander's Holdings, Inc.-6.12%$131
Dine Brands Global, Inc-9.25%$1,330
Biglari holdings (Class A)-10.20%$363
Drive Shack Inc.-11.82%$238
Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc.-21.23%$1,100

Digital Haves and Have Nots

The same types of initiatives appear to be paying off, especially for the biggest winners.

  1. Brinker International has exceeded expectations with its ghost kitchen virtual offering—It’s Just Wings. A ghost kitchen is a restaurant optimized strictly for delivery, with a no dine-in approach and a condensed menu, they are intended to achieve higher margins.
  2. Shake Shack saw 60% of shack sales go digital in Q3’20. Their digital footprint is expected to grow along with their target to open 50-60 new locations in 2021.
  3. Chipotle’s loyalty rewards member program reached 17 million members as of late. Furthermore, digital sales grew 177% year-over-year in their fourth quarter, and nearly 50% of revenues are now derived from digital orders.
  4. Dine-in Drought

    Those in negative territory have not had the same good fortune. They tend to be sit-down establishments suffering from drastic falls in foot traffic.

    Without a pre-existing digital presence to reach customers, sales run the risk of taking a nosedive. Hospitality workers are among those hardest hit by the pandemic, and a lack of demand for hospitality labor again points to the dire circumstances for some sit-down restaurants.

    Delivery Mania

    For the food industry, the fall in foot traffic is partially offset by the rise in food delivery. Pure play companies in the food delivery space like DoorDash and Grubhub have fared well. Grubhub reported 622,700 Daily Average Grubs (daily deliveries) in 2020, up from 492,300 from the year prior. And for Uber, growth in the delivery segment of their business has buoyed the decline in ride hailing.

    With the vaccine rollouts in play, the restaurant stocks on the NYSE may get a much-needed boost. But pandemic or not, the digital trends in the restaurant space will continue to shape the industry after COVID-19 just as it has done prior.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Top Foreign Stocks
Notes: Data is as of March 1, 2021

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Charted: Money Can Buy Happiness After All

We’ve heard that money can only buy happiness up to a certain point. But a new study suggests cut-off may be a lot higher than we thought.

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The Briefing

  • Previous research has indicated that money stops buying happiness after $75,000/year
  • However, new research finds a strong correlation between income and happiness, trending upwards even after $80,000/year

In One Chart: Money Can Buy Happiness After All

What’s the relationship between money and happiness? Previous studies have indicated that, while money can in fact buy happiness, it plateaus at approximately $75,000/year.

However, new research suggests otherwise.

Using over a million real-time reports from a large U.S. sample group, a recent study found that happiness increases linearly with reported income (logarithmic), and continues to rise beyond the $80,000/year mark.

Below, we’ll provide more details on the research methodology, while touching on a few possible reasons why higher incomes may improve people’s happiness levels.

How is Happiness Measured?

Past research on happiness relative to income has relied on retrospective data, which leaves room for human memory errors. In contrast, this new study uses real-time, logged data from a mood tracking app, allowing for a more accurate representation of respondents’ experienced well-being.

Data was also collected by random prompts over a period of time, with dozens of entries logged for each single respondent. This provides a more well-rounded representation of a person’s overall well-being.

Two forms of well-being were measured in this study:

  • Experienced well-being
    A person’s mood and feeling throughout daily life.
  • Evaluative well-being:
    Someone’s perception of their life upon reflection.

Both forms of well-being increased with higher incomes, but evaluative well-being showed a more drastic split between the lower and higher income groups.

The Results (Measured in Standard Deviations from Mean)

Annual IncomeWell-Being (Experienced)Well-Being (Evaluative)
$15,000-0.21-0.34
$25,000-0.11-0.32
$35,000-0.09-0.19
$45,000-0.06-0.15
$55,000-0.05-0.07
$65,000-0.03-0.04
$75,000-0.01-0.02
$85,0000.010.03
$95,0000.030.01
$112,5000.040.08
$137,5000.060.17
$175,0000.080.17
$250,0000.170.24
$400,0000.190.35
$625,0000.150.38

Why Does Money Buy Happiness?

The report warns that any theories behind why happiness increases with income are purely speculative. However, it does list a few possibilities:

  • Increased comfort
    As someone earns more, they may have the ability to purchase things that reduce suffering. This is particularly true when comparing low to moderate income groups—larger incomes below $80,000/year still showed a strong association with reduced negative feelings.
  • More control
    Control seems to be tied to respondents’ happiness levels. In fact, having a sense of control accounted for 74% of the association between income and well-being.
  • Money matters
    Not all respondents cared about money. But for those who did, it had a significant impact on their perceived well-being. In general, lower income earners were happier if they didn’t value money, while higher income earners were happier if they thought money mattered.

Whatever the cause may be, one thing is clear—Biggie Smalls was wrong. Looks like more money doesn’t necessarily mean more problems.

»Like this? Then you might enjoy this article, Which Countries are the Most (and Least) Happy?

Where does this data come from?

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Details: Participants were 33,391 employed adults living in the United States; median age was 33; median household income was $85,000/y (25th percentile = $45,000; 75th percentile = $137,500; mean = $106,548; SD = $95,393); 36% were male; and 37% were married

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