This chart shows the performance of gold itself (GLD) and my top holdings since the recent top in gold on 12/2/2009. I'm showing all my top holdings so as not to self-aggrandize any supposed great stock picking.
As you can see, only one of the above stocks has been positive, Gold Resource Corp (GORO.OB), even though it suffered a dilution during the period and is failing to get its mine going in 2009 as it "targeted". I believe that this is because Hochschild (mid-tier silver producer and investor in GORO.OB) is anxious to up its investment (because it deems it to be quite a good investment) and is thus supporting the price.
What I see in the other stocks is that, even with my best stock picking, they have fallen roughly 50% more than gold itself (15% vs 10%). I take this to mean that even with my best stock picking, stocks fall significantly harder than gold and basically no amount of stock picking expertise can be expected to produce profits while the price of gold is falling.
In contrast, the same stocks during the dramatic bull run (from 9/1/2009 to 12/2/2009) are up around 50% compared to roughly 25% for gold itself. I take this to mean that my own stock picking (the best I can do) gives better leverage to gold during upswings (and smaller losses on downswings) and the overall leverage is some where around 2 to 1 on upswings.
I guess it means that being right on the price of gold (or any resource) is of foremost importance, while picking among stocks for a given resource adds leverage and value. Stock picking is good, but is not worth as much as being right about the basic resource. Is that how you see it?
Your mileage may vary. Hope this is useful and not self-aggrandizing. It is not meant to be.