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3 Commodity ETFs Defying Weakness in 2015

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After a terrible 2014, broad commodities ranging from natural resources to metals have been beaten down badly this year too. This is especially true in the backdrop of a strong dollar, lower oil price, and weak global fundamentals that have dampened the appeal for these commodities.

Notably, the most popular commodity fund - PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund ( DBC ) - which tracks a broad basket of 14 most heavily traded commodity futures contract has seen terrible trading in the year-to-date time frame, tumbling nearly 28.4%. While the U.S. economy has been on a firmer footing with increased confidence, international fundamentals are not so encouraging.

In particular, the persistent slowdown in the world's largest buyer of raw materials - China - has not only been raising concerns over the health of the world's second-largest economy but also on global growth. Additionally, slower growth in Europe and Japan, and sluggishness in many emerging markets have added to the woes. Further, the first rate hike in the U.S. in almost a decade has created more trouble for the commodities that will continue dulling their attractiveness in the New Year (read: 6 Commodity ETFs Hit 52-Week Low Recently; Still at Risk ).

While there have been victims in every corner of the commodity space, investors should note that a handful of ETFs still hold up this year with a couple of these providing double-digits returns. Below, we have highlighted three such ETFs that could act as better plays in the current market and could make for solid picks for 2016 if the same trend persists:

iPath Pure Beta Cocoa ETN ( CHOC )

Cocoa price has been on the rise on rapidly growing demand in a number of countries like Brazil, China and Russia, and the shrinking output especially in the two largest producing nations of West Africa - Ivory Coast and Ghana. Further, environmental factors, such as El Nino and the Harmattan, hampered cocoa production sending prices higher. That being said, CHOC has delivered solid returns of over 13% this year. This note seeks to match the performance of the Barclays Cocoa Pure Beta Total Return Index (read: Cocoa ETFs Surge; Will the Uptrend Last? ).

Unlike many commodity indexes, this can roll into one of a number of futures contracts with varying expiration dates, as selected, using the Barclays Pure Beta Series 2 Methodology. This approach results in less contango, which is an important factor, as shifting from month to month in contracts can eat away returns during an unfavorable market situation. The note has amassed $8.1 million in its asset base and trades in paltry volume of about 2,000 shares a day. Expense ratio came in at 0.75%.

iPath Global Carbon ETN ( GRN )

The countries across the globe are heading toward cleaning the climate by building a 'low-carbon' economy and fighting hazardous consequences due to the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Steeped-up efforts by President Barrack Obama for climate change and increasing carbon credit grants are driving the industry's growth and have been building up a positive momentum in the space.

As a result, the only product in the space - GRN - has generated impressive returns of about 13% so far in 2015. The ETN follows the Barclays Global Carbon Index Total Return, which measures the performance of the most highly traded carbon-related credit plans. The note holds around 99.96% of its total assets in futures contracts of ECX Allowances (EUA) Emission and the remaining in futures contracts of ECX Certified Emission Reductions (CERs). The ETN has total assets of $3.3 million while volume is extremely light at around 3,000 shares a day. It charges investors 75 bps in fees and expenses (read: 2 Winning Commodity ETFs for the Worst Q3 ).

iPath Dow Jones-UBS Cotton Subindex Total Return ETN ( BAL )

Though cotton price hit a five-year low in late March, it has rebounded substantially from that level as heavy rainfall in many cotton growing states has hampered crop plantations, leading to reduced output. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) expects global cotton production for the 2015-16 season to be the lowest in six years. However, global demand for cotton remains weak.

Given the mixed fundamentals, BAL has managed to hold on to gains of 1.7% this year. The product follows the Dow Jones-UBS Cotton Subindex Total Return, which delivers returns through an unleveraged investment in the futures contracts on cotton. The ETN has amassed $17.2 million in AUM and trades in light volume of roughly 8,000 shares per day. Expense ratio came in at 0.75% (see: all Agricultural ETFs here ).

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IPATH-PB COCOA (CHOC): ETF Research Reports

IPATH-GLBL CRBN (GRN): ETF Research Reports

IPATH-BB COTN (BAL): ETF Research Reports

PWRSH-DB COMDTY (DBC): ETF Research Reports

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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