The agricultural industry has not been the best performer as of late, but many popular investors have been buying into the sector during the downturn, including billionaire investor George Soros and his former partner Jim Rogers, among others. With the drought sending corn, wheat and soybean to modern-era highs last year and early this year, many analysts expect these trends to continue into the first half of 2013. Below, we outline three agriculture stocks that have outperformed the rest and may be setting up for a big 2013 [for more agricultural news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
In the world of commodity investing gurus, few can match the track record or fame of Jim Rogers. The investment legend is probably best known for his work with George Soros in creating the Quantum fund, but Rogers has been more active in the commodity space as of late with the creation of several indexes and a book on the subject as well. Lately, Jim Rogers has been on the precious metal bandwagon, pushing many investors to buy up these products to defend against further dollar weakness and fiat currency debasement by central bankers around the world. Yet, with gold hitting fresh highs on a seemingly weekly basis, Rogers has begun to advocate for investors to look to other corners of the investing world for gains in the future [see also Jim Rogers Says: Buy Commodities Now, Or You’ll Hate Yourself Later].
Wheat is one of the oldest, and arguably the most important crops in the world, primarily responsible for man’s movement to the cities in ancient times. The crop is relatively easy to grow, can flourish in a multitude of environments, and the crop tends to stay fresh for a long time, allowing food to be stored for a long-period. Today, wheat is one of the three most consumed grains in the world, second only to rice in terms of human consumption at just over 680 million tons a year [see also The Guide To The Biggest Companies In Every Major Commodity Sector].
Soybeans originated in Southeast Asia and Chinese farmers were the first to domesticate the plant and reap its rewards. The crop quickly became a staple in China, Japan, and Korea, while it wasn’t introduced in Europe until the 18th century. Soybeans quickly gained popularity and spread all over the world, reaching South America in the late 19th century. Today, Brazil and Argentina are top world producers of soybeans, while the United States leads the way in total production. Traditional uses include soy milk, tofu, and soy vegetable oil. Soybean meal is also a primary component of animal feed due to its valuable protein content and its relatively low-cost to produce. Interestingly enough, soybeans can produce roughly twice as much protein per acre as any other major vegetable or grain, making it incredibly appealing to producers and health-minded consumers.