In fact, the BlackRock Gold & General fund has lost 35 per cent in the past two years, while investors have been leaving in droves, halving the fund size to roughly £1.5bn.
The manager is visibly disappointed when he talks about the recent absolute performance of the fund, though he is keen to point out that the fund has been outperforming relative to its benchmark, which it is beating by 5 per cent so far in 2013.
“We are working really hard to get the absolute numbers back up again because it has been pretty disappointing in the past few years but, at the end of the day, we cannot go in the opposite direction of what the sector is doing.
“If we can outperform when the sector is going down, that’s okay, but it’s not great and we have got to be able to generate the absolute return that people want by making sector bets and that is the goal right now.”
If investors do believe in the long-term case for gold equities, then they will struggle to find a better way to access it than through Gold & General, with its stellar track record, but Mr Hambro is keen to emphasise how much his team contributes to performance.
“I would like to make sure as much is made of the team as me. It’s actually them that do everything and it’s important that is recognised.”
Mr Hambro says the fund is run on a “true to label” basis and, as such, cannot invest in sectors outside of its mining remit, nor can the manager keep back a substantial amount of money and “hide” in cash, two of the main ways to improve absolute performance when the sector is falling in value. So instead, he is looking to limit the downside while also buying into companies that he believes are incredibly cheap right now.
He explains: “We are constantly evolving the portfolio based on where we see opportunities or value in the market, and right now there are exploration companies that have made a discovery. But if the costs they are saddled with to turn that discovery into a producing asset are too high for the market right now, then those shares are heavily discounted to their long-term value and that’s an area of opportunity.
“All gold mining companies have been tarred with the same brush, so there are opportunities to buy companies with great production growth that are fully financed and will be beneficial to the value of the company over time, and we are heavily invested in those companies.”