Though global economic growth is still hinged on the crisis in
Europe and the sluggish U.S. job markets, rising food prices have
become a major concern in the economies the world over.
The world food prices including cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat
and sugar are surging to new highs due to the scorching heat and
the worst U.S. drought in nearly a half-century (read:
Bet on Higher Food Prices with These Three
The bad weather has also resulted in the worst wheat harvest
since the late 1980s. In fact, harvest levels of this key crop
dropped 14% on average this year further underscoring the issues
that this corner of the market is seeing.
The cost of dairy costs jumped the most in more than two
years. Livestock breeders and dairy farmers are now continuously
passing on the increased cost of feed to consumers, suggesting
there is still more hikes to come.
If that wasn't enough, in June and July, a heatwave in Russia
and a major drought in that key grain growing nature led to
higher prices as well, as 45% of the corn and 35% of the soybean
crop were destroyed (read:
How Do You Invest for the Coming Crop Crisis?
The hike in food prices forebodes gnawing hunger for a slice
of the American population. Americans on lower incomes are
consuming less food due to 30% appreciation in the prices of
fruit, milk, cheese and egg.
Unfortunately, relief doesn't appear to be coming anytime soon
either, as according to a recent data from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, Americans expect to pay 3-5% more on groceries next
In other words, there seems to be little relief in sight for
high food prices. This is especially true with another round of
monetary stimulus from central banks in many countries flowing
into the markets, thus weakening the dollar and giving even more
strength to commodity prices in the near term.
Investors concerned about the uptick in food prices,
particularly if the drought continues and crop yields continue to
plummet, might want to watch these four ETFs outlined below (see
more ETFs in the
. These funds could be especially impacted by any continued
trends in food prices, and particularly if prices continue to
ascend in the near future.
E-TRACS UBS Bloomberg CMCI Food ETN (
Investors seeking a broad play on the food segment of the
commodity market should find FUD an intriguing choice. Launched
in April 2008, the product provides wide exposure to a portfolio
of agricultural and livestock commodity futures through a single
investment. The commodity futures contracts are diversified
across three constant maturities from three months up to one
The note tracks the performance of the UBS Bloomberg CMCI Food
Index Total Return index, net of fees and expenses. The fund
holds 10 commodities in the basket, all of which can be
classified as 'softs'. Top holdings include sugar (24%), soybeans
(19%) and corn (16%) while other in-focus commodities also make
an appearance in the product as well (read:
What Happened to the Sugar ETF?
The product charges 65 bps in fees per year from investors.
Despite the lower fees, volume is unfortunately quite bad in the
note, coming in at about 7,700 shares a day.
This means that investors have to pay extra cost in the form
of wide bid/ask spread. The ETN has posted remarkable performance
so far this year, yielding over 9% returns (as of October 12) and
attracted $27.9 million worth of assets.
iPath Dow Jones-UBS Livestock ETN (
For investors seeking exposure to livestock, COW could a good
choice. The product seeks to replicate the price and yield of the
Dow Jones-UBS Livestock Subindex Total Return index, a sub-index
of the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Total Return index. The
returns of the product are available through an unleveraged
investment in the futures contract on livestock commodities.
The product puts roughly 70% of its exposure in live cattle
contracts while lean hogs account for the rest of the portfolio.
The note is quite expensive, charging 75 bps in annual fees from
It is relatively liquid as it trades in volumes of 36,000
shares per day on average. The product was launched in October
2007 and has managed assets worth $54.6 million so far this
The product has had a lackluster performance, losing about 6%
in the year (as of October 12). This suggests that investors
still have time to get in on the note, especially if herd sizes
continue to shrink and feed costs rise heading into the fall. The
ETN retains a Zacks Rank # 1 or 'Strong Buy' rating, suggesting
that the fund has more upside potential ahead this year.
PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF (
For investors believing that costs can easily be passed on to
end users, and are seeking a concentrated play on the food and
beverage segment from a stock perspective, PBJ could be an
interesting pick (read:
Time to Buy the Food and Beverage ETF?
The fund tracks the Dynamic Food & Beverage Intellidex
Index, which uses various investment criteria like price
momentum, earnings momentum, quality, management action and value
to include stocks in the list.
Launched in June 2005, the product holds 30 securities with
AUM of $106.5 million. The fund puts nearly 46% in the top ten
firms. Archer Daniels Midland (
), Coca Cola (
) and Mondelez International (
) enjoy the top three positions in the basket. Large cap accounts
for a substantial 46% share while mid and small cap account for
the remaining portion of the basket.
About 91% of the portfolio goes to consumer staples companies
while the rest goes towards consumer discretionary (read:
The Comprehensive Guide to Consumer Staples
). The ETF is relatively cheap when compared to its counterparts,
charging 63 bps in fees per year.
Trading in good volume of about 48,000 shares per day, the
product has tight bid/ask spread. The fund delivered impressive
returns of over 4% year-to-date (as of October 12) and yields a
decent dividend of 1.21% annually.
PBJ currently has a Zacks Rank # 3 or 'Hold' rating.
PowerShares DB Agriculture ETF (
Investors targeting agricultural commodities could choose DBA.
Launched in January 2007, the fund seeks to replicate the price
and performance of the DBIQ Diversified Agriculture Index Excess
Return index plus interest income from treasuries, before fees
It is one of the most popular and the largest fund in the
commodity space. The fund is composed of futures contracts on
some of the most liquid and widely traded agricultural
commodities that trade on American markets.
The fund has a wide variety of 10 commodities in its basket.
Top holdings include soybean (14%) and cocoa (13%) while the
another three commodities - coffee, wheat and live cattle - make
up 12% each as well (read:
Cocoa ETFs: The Safe Haven in Agricultural
). The fund has amassed close to $1.9 billion in AUM and sees
volume of over one million shares a day.
While the fund is expensive in the space charging 1.01% in
annual fees, there is no extra cost involved in trading this
popular product given its solid volume. The fund has gained only
0.10% so far this year (as of October 12).
DBA currently has a Zacks Rank # 2 or 'Buy' rating. This
suggests that the ETF would outperform its peers over the
upcoming one-year period.
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ARCHER DANIELS (ADM): Free Stock Analysis
IPATH-DJ-A LVST (COW): ETF Research Reports
PWRSH-DB AGRIC (DBA): ETF Research Reports
E-TRC UBC FOOD (FUD): ETF Research Reports
COCA COLA CO (KO): Free Stock Analysis Report
PWRSH-DYN FD&BV (PBJ): ETF Research
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