Three Worst Performing Commodity ETFs Over The Last Three Years

Ever since markets crashed in 2008, investors have been slowly increasing their risk appetites, shifting towards more lucrative and risky asset classes such as commodities. Some investments in this category have flourished, while others haven’t fared so well. Natural gas is perhaps the first cringe-worthy commodity that comes to mind as investors witnessed its unprecedented free fall over the last few years. But with NG and some of the other big losers comes a potential buy in opportunity at rock bottom prices. Whether you’re looking for a bargain or simply want to avoid these bad-performing funds, we outline 3 of the worst performing commodity ETPs over the last three years. Note that this list is a bit modified in that we only chose one fund from each commodity type [see also 12 High-Yielding Commodities For 2012]. 

United States Natural Gas Fund LP (UNG) – Down 86%

No big surprises here: down 86% over the last three years, UNG maintains its title of commodity ETF’s biggest loser.  Natural gas has been one of the hardest hit commodities on the market, losing all of its momentum since the recession. And as such, funds like UNG and GAZ have tumbled along side record hitting low natural gas prices. 2012 is proving to be yet another frustrating year for the commodity with natural gas prices already dropping  more than 20% on the year [see also 25 Ways To Invest In Natural Gas].

Global Carbon ETN (GRN) – Down 49%

Most investors probably don’t even know what a Global Carbon ETN is, and consequently aren’t too concerned about its placement on this list (unless, of course, they happen to be invested in it). GRN’s underlying assets are comprised of global carbon allowances: credits that essentially allow companies to emit specific levels of carbon from factories and power stations. Essentially, investors in this fund are placing a bet that environmentalism will become a much more prominent issue. As seen with GRN’s dismal performance, that bet failed: the fund currently is down 49% over the last three years, barely has any assets or trading volume, and is likely to shut down barring a major turnaround [see also What The Heck Is A Global Carbon ETN? (And Why Was It Down 25% In June?)].

Dow Jones-UBS Cocoa Total Return Sub-Index ETN (NIB) – Down 18%

Investors in iPath’s NIB haven’t been getting any sweet returns from this cocoa fund, as it has dropped 18% over the last 3 years and has lost over 30% in the last year alone. Cocoa’s decline can most notably be attributed to its largest supplier: the Ivory Coast, a region that is chock-full of risk and political instability. In recent years, the Ivory Coast has seen violent civil wars and extreme economic volatility. From a pure theoretical perspective, a decline in production would yield a jump in cocoa prices. But considering NIB’s poor performance, it seems as though the fund was not able to overcome cocoa’s drastic volatility [see also Three Commodities Ripe With Political Risk].

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

About Daniela Pylypczak

Daniela Pylypczak-Wasylyszyn is a regular contributor to, where she primarily focuses on commodity producers equities. She is also an analyst for, where she contributes articles and analysis each week. Since joining the team in 2011, Daniela has quickly grown to be one of the most widely-followed authors in the industry. Her articles are syndicated in a number of online publications, including Financial Advisor Magazine,, and Yahoo! Finance. Daniela is also a contributor for and Daniela graduated from DePaul University with a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics.
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