07/10/2013 01:19 EDT | Updated 09/09/2013 05:12 EDT

Gold bugs remain bullish on gold, say upward trend 'not reversed'

TORONTO - As gold slowly recovers from its biggest quarterly loss on record, gold bugs remain bullish and say it is still worth investing in despite the hammering the yellow metal has taken this year.

"I firmly believe that we will see higher gold prices in the future and that the long-term upward trend has not been reversed," said Rolf Schneebeli, former head of the World Gold Council for the Middle East and India.

Gold fell 23 per cent to US$1,235 an ounce in the second quarter that ended on June 28, its biggest quarterly plunge since trading began in 1971.

Investing in gold has often been seen as a hedge against inflation and when central banks opened the taps to easy money in the wake of the financial crisis in recent years, investors flocked to gold in anticipation of rising prices.

However, the expected rampant inflation never materialized and now the U.S. Federal Reserve is talking about easing back on its stimulus.

Talk of the tapering of the stimulus has clobbered both the price of gold and the stocks of the companies that mine it.

The S&P/TSX Global Gold Index is down nearly 50 per cent from the start of the year, with heavyweight Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) down nearly 60 per cent.

Compounding the affect on the price of the metal has been a strengthening in the U.S. dollar and for the gold miners it has been the increasing costs to get it out of the ground.

But Schneebeli says market consensus is that a price below $1,100 is quite unlikely.

"Currently the markets seem to believe that the worst (of the economic crisis) is over and that normality has returned. This might be premature and some negative surprises might well be positive for gold again," said Schneebeli, who is currently CEO of the consulting firm Gold Services AG, based in Zurich.

However, not everyone is bullish.

CIBC (TSX:CM) on Wednesday slashed its forecast price for gold to US$1,200 per ounce for the remainder of this year, rising to only $1,350 in 2014 before falling back to $1,300 in 2015 and to $1,200 long term.

The bank had previously forecast a price of gold for this year to be $1,700, $1,800 in 2014 and $1,500 in 2015, with a long-term price of $1,500.

On Wednesday, the August gold contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up $12.80 at US$1,258.70 an ounce.

"Sure, nothing ever goes down in a straight line and there’s bound to be a bounce after such a stellar rout, but for us, the bigger question is whether or not gold could or should still be seen as an investment – now , or even over the next five years?" CIBC analyst Leon Esterhuizen wrote in a report.

"Outside of continued money printing, which must ultimately undermine the relative value of the U.S. dollar in gold terms, everything else remains pointing in the wrong direction for the gold price for now."

But Himadri Bhattacharya, who has tracked gold for years, believes despite the sharp fall in its price this year, gold's attractive investment properties for individuals and institutions still hold.

"The issue is at what level investors should buy again given the current bearish undertone. My sense is that gold at or below $1,100 is a good buy," said Bhattacharya, global adviser at RisKontroller GmbH, a Swiss company that develops risk management solutions.

The reason for that, he says, is one of the "bearest" forecasts (by UBS) on gold price over the next few months is $1,050 per ounce."

"From a purely technical trading perspective, $1,000 is a strong support, meaning thereby that a lot of buying interest is likely to emerge at this level," he said.

Hong Kong-based Marc Faber, publisher of the Gloom, Boom and Doom report, also thinks gold will go up.

"I am buying every month and I keep approximately 25 per cent of my assets in gold," said the maverick investor, pointing out that he has repeatedly pronounced his faith in gold.