Since the turn of the year, Hochschild (LSE: HOC) has beaten the FTSE 100 by a whopping 154%. That’s an incredible return in a very short period of time and has largely been due to the improved outlook for precious metals prices. With the US likely to only increase interest rates once or twice in 2016 rather than the previously expected four times, non-interest producing assets such as silver and gold are now much more appealing to investors and their prices could keep on rising through the rest of the year.

A key reason for that is 2016 could prove to be a highly uncertain year for the global economy. With the US election on the horizon, investors may decide to sit back and turn to lower risk assets such as gold as they wait to see what the political landscape looks like come 2017. With gold historically having been a store of wealth, this could be good news for its price and for mining companies such as Hochschild.

With Hochschild forecast to return to profitability in the current year before recording a rise in earnings of 254% next year, its shares appear to be well-worth buying right now. They trade on a price-to-earnings-growth (PEG) ratio of just 0.2 and therefore could easily beat the wider index over the medium term.

Set to outperform

Also benefitting from the rising gold price is Randgold Resources (LSE: RRS). The Africa-focused miner has recorded an increase in its share price of 42% since the turn of the year and according to this week’s production update, it seems to be moving from strength to strength. Notably, Randgold’s flagship operation experienced a strong quarter that helped to offset technical problems in its other mines.

Looking ahead, Randgold is forecast to increase its earnings by an impressive 36% in the current year and while that’s some way behind Hochschild’s expected performance, Randgold has been a much more solid business in recent years. Unlike Hochschild it has remained in profit throughout the last five years and with it focusing on reducing costs, it seems to be in a strong position if the gold price disappoints. With Randgold trading on a PEG ratio of 1, it looks set to outperform the FTSE 100 over the medium-to-long term.

Risky but rewarding?

Meanwhile, shares in 88 Energy (LSE: 88E) have beaten the wider index by 344% since the turn of the year and while that level of performance may not be repeated moving forward, the stock could still be of interest to less risk-averse investors.

That’s because 88 Energy recently stated that it expects to release a number of test results from the ongoing analysis that’s currently being undertaken at its Icewine prospect in Alaska. Furthermore, it anticipates that the design of the second well at Icewine will be completed, with both of these events having the potential to move the company’s share price sharply upwards.

Clearly, 88 Energy remains a relatively high-risk play and its shares will probably remain volatile throughout the remainder of 2016. And while they could fall as they have done in the last month (by 48%), 88 Energy has the potential to beat the index too.

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Peter Stephens has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.