Image source: Silver Wheaton.

What: Silver Wheaton Corp.'s (NYSE:WPM) shares rose by more than a quarter in value last month. Royal Gold (NASDAQ:RGLD) was right behind it with a 20% advance. The pair were both up nearly 70% for the year through the end of April.

So what: The story for Silver Wheaton and Royal Gold remains the same: Precious-metals prices are heading higher. Although gold's April advance wasn't nearly as robust as some of its monthly moves earlier in the year, the yellow metal did end the month higher than where it started. Silver's advance was far more pronounced, matching the types of gains that metal saw between mid-January and mid-February.

So, once again, precious-metals prices were the name of the game for the share prices of Silver Wheaton and Royal Gold in April. But the advances weren't as pronounced as the gains seen at mining companies, which might make this pair of streaming companies seem like precious-metals laggards. Don't make that mistake.

Silver Wheaton and Royal Gold give miners money up front for the right to buy gold and silver at reduced rates in the future. That means they don't have to deal with mining, just collecting and selling their precious metals. That's part of the reason this duo held up relatively well during the precious-metals downturn, in fact, this duo used the downturn to bulk up their businesses at the expense of struggling miners. And it's also why they might look like laggards today -- they didn't do as badly as the miners on the downside, so there's less ground to make up.

Now what: Since Silver Wheaton and Royal Gold both used the precious-metals and mining downturn to ink new streaming deals, they have more of the metals to sell as the price of gold and silver head higher. Put simply, they're in a good position today. They may not have the upside potential of a recovering miner, but if you're looking for precious-metals exposure, it's well worth your effort to get to know this pair of streaming companies and how they differ from the miners. You might find that lower highs and higher lows is more your speed.

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.