Using a lengthy ad for a gold stock as a take-off, "Hard Assets Investor" looks at the risk of owning gold stocks (as proxied by the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF) versus bullion (as proxied by GLD.) As it turns out, the former not only had less of an overall return over the last four years but also was more volatile. On a statistical basis, GLD was the better investment in two categories: raw return and risk.
Conditions change, of course, and the relative doldrums faced by gold stocks could reverse. Determining such a reversal is the province of fundamental analysis, though. "Hard Assets Investor" makes the now-obvious point that the time to get into gold stocks was in late '08. The GLD:GDX is still high, suggesting some underpricing of gold stocks, but not by that much.