5 Questions for a Gold Bug

Thomas Winmill, manager of the Midas fund, discusses investing in mining stocks and how he identifies quality companies.

Investing in gold-mining firms is in Thomas Winmill's blood. His father, Bassett Winmill, created one of the earliest gold-focused mutual funds in 1974. Thomas invested in that fund as a high school and college student. After college, he joined the family investment business, which acquired the Midas fund (symbol MIDSX) in 1995. He took over management of the fund at the end of 2001. Over the past five years through February 28, Midas has returned an annualized 31%, good enough to rank among the top 10% of precious metals funds.

In addition to gold mining stocks, the fund can invest in miners of other precious and non-precious metals, as well as in oil, natural gas and commodities. Lately, though, Winmill has been bullish on gold, and the fund's holdings reflect that. When we recently sat down with the New York-based Winmill, he suggested the interview's first question.

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Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance