As 2011 comes to a close, it's a great time to look back at what happened to the stocks that interest you. By making sure you know the important things that a company accomplished -- as well as the setbacks it experienced -- you can make a better decision about whether it's a smart investment for your portfolio.

Today, let's take a look at Central Fund of Canada (AMEX: CEF). The closed-end fund gives investors a one-stop shop for both gold and silver exposure, but both metals have seen big moves both up and down over the past year. Below, I'll take a closer look at the events that moved Central Fund's shares in 2011.

Stats on Central Fund of Canada

Year-to-Date Return (4.2%)
Assets Under Management $5.05 billion
Current Investment Mix 53.4% gold
45.3% silver
1.3% cash
CAPS Rating (out of 5) ***

Sources: S&P Capital IQ and Motley Fool CAPS.

What happened to Central Fund of Canada this year?
As an investment vehicle that owns gold and silver bullion, Central Fund's fortunes ebb and flow with those of the precious metals markets. This year, shareholders saw huge moves, especially during the spring, when a huge move upward in silver gave way to an even sharper decline. That had a much smaller effect on gold ETF SPDR Gold (NYSE: GLD), but it did give plenty of gains to silver-focused bear ETF ProShares UltraShort Silver (NYSE: ZSL) while hitting the correspondingly bullish ProShares Ultra Silver (NYSE: AGQ) for a loop.

In recent days, precious metals have taken a big hit as the European crisis continues to unravel without major progress. Miners like Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY) and Silvercorp Metals (NYSE: SVM) have followed suit. But even with those drops, Central Fund has stayed near breakeven for the year. And because the closed-end fund has been able to make share offerings at a premium to net asset value, it's actually been able to enhance shareholder value -- unlike some traditional ETFs.

Bullion investing has created plenty of controversy, and the huge volatility reflects disparate opinions about it. But with millions of ounces of physical gold and silver bullion in a vault, Central Fund has the assets to back up its investment objective -- and will continue to do so well into the future.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.