As the summer months continue, a number of commodities hit a turning point in their seasonality, triggering movements in their prices and expectations of future prices. As such, taking a look at commodities exhibiting contango is a healthy exercise to ensure that you have a firm grasp on the current state of the hard asset world. As a quick reminder, contango is the process whereby near month futures are cheaper than those expiring further into the future, creating an upward sloping curve for future prices over time [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
With four months complete, 2014 has been a mixed bag for commodity producing stocks. While broad equity markets are hovering at about breakeven for the year, many commodity intensive stocks have made big pushes in both directions. Below is a look at some of the sectors that are both leading and lagging through the first four months of 2014:
The first quarter earnings season of 2014 is well on its way, with several bellwethers reporting both hits and misses. On the commodity producer front, Alcoa (AA) kicked off the season. AA reported revenues of $5.45 billion, below the expected $5.56 billion, and earnings of $0.09 per share, which managed to beat analyst estimates of $0.05. Agribusiness giant Monsanto (MON) managed to beat both EPS and revenue estimates, posting quarterly revenues of $5.83 billion and earnings of $3.15 per share [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
The London Metal Exchange announced a new feature for its exchange, giving traders more options than ever. Specifically, the exchange will give traders the ability to hedge aluminum prices, as the commodity continues to rise due to lengthy delivery times that have thrown a wrench in a number of supply chains [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
With the first quarter of 2014 on the books, investors are still digesting a slew of mixed economic reports, as well as looming uncertainty over the crisis in Ukraine. Equity markets have struggled to find a definitive direction so far this year – a vastly different environment from the record-breaking rallies seen at the end of last year. The commodities market also saw a fair amount of activity in Q1, as geopolitical tensions, severe weather, and global economic uncertainty (particularly in China) came into focus. Below, we outline some of the best and worst performing futures from the first quarter of this year [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter]:
In recent months, investors have turned their attention to one of the largest commodity consumers in the world: China. Many attribute the most recent commodity supercycle as a byproduct of China’s emergence. Subsequently, analysts have pointed to China’s slowdown as one of the biggest contributing factors to the market’s recent decline [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Though the commodity space has faced significant headwinds over the past year, there have been certain corners of the market that have proven to be worthwhile investments. One such segment has been commodity producer equities – some of which have benefited from the bull run seen in 2013. But for those investors who are still looking for more bang for their buck, we turn to an elite group dubbed the “Dividend Aristocrats.” This select group of companies have increased their annual dividends every year for at least the past 25 years, giving yield-hungry investors a steady stream of current income [for more on commodity dividends subscribe to our free newsletter].
With Alcoa (AA) kicking off earnings season last week, investors will spend the next little while combing through quarterly statements from their favorite commodity firms. Alcoa reported a fourth quarter net loss of $2.3 billion and missed analysts’ EPS estimates. Agribusiness giant Monsanto Company (MON), however, managed to beat the Street’s estimates, posting an 8.6% increase in quarterly profits [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Last week, we gave investors our first contango report for 2014, noting that precious metals are facing upward curves for the foreseeable future. This week, we’re bringing you the first backwardation report of the year. For those unfamiliar with this term, backwardation is the process whereby near month futures are more expensive than those expiring further into the future, creating a downward sloping curve for future prices over time – put simply, it’s the opposite of contango [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Uncertainty may have been a central theme on Wall Street all year, but when all was said and done, it was undeniable that the bulls prevailed on the equity front. Bears, however, ripped through commodity markets across the board. With taper fears now in the history books and a federal budget deal on the table, it’s no wonder that many are anticipating for the stock market bull to continue its run higher into 2014 [for more commodity futures news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].