It is not a bold proclamation to say that anyone that has visited a financial website, watched more than a minute of CNBC, or picked up an issue of the Wall Street Journal in the past week knows at least one thing: Corn prices are surging. As in rallying to record highs kind of surging.
Corn's ascent has been nothing short of breathtaking. Thanks to a drought across the US Midwest that looks like something out of the Old Testament, the quality and size of the US corn crop is at multi-year lows.
On the other hand, the Teucrium Corn Fund (CORN) is trading near record highs after a 31.4% surge in the past month. That rally has has trickled down to other exchange-traded products as well, but ambitious traders may be wondering what commodity is next to follow in corn's footsteps.
Soybeans appear to be a valid choice. Obfuscated by all the attention being heaped on corn are two facts. First, some of the major corn-producing states are also major soybean producers. For example, Iowa and Illinois, the two-largest corn-producing states, are also the top two in terms of soybean production. That means the same drought that is ravaging corn production is wreaking havoc on soybean output.
Second, soybean prices have been soaring, though not nearly to the degree of corn prices. "Corn prices have risen by 54% since mid-June. What may come as a surprise is that another critical commodity -- soybeans -- has only risen by half as much, or just 28% in the past month," according to a Morgan Stanley report posted on Zero Hedge over the weekend.
Last week, Morgan Stanley upped its 2012-2013 soybean price forecast to $16 per bushel from $12.70.
The bank noted that soybean inventory is currently in worse shape than that of corn. Making matters worse, the bank said, "[W]hat may come as shock is that percentage of soybeans rated in ‘good or excellent' condition is even less than corn."
ETF investors can take heart because just as there is with corn, there are ample opportunities within the exchange-traded products universe with which to exploit a potential soybean surge. Starting with the...
Teucrium Soybean Fund (SOYB) The Teucrium Soybean Fund is to soybeans what CORN is to corn. That means SOYB tracks (1) the second-to-expire CBOT Soybean Futures Contract, weighted 35%, (2) the third-to-expire CBOT Soybean Futures Contract, weighted 30%, and (3) the CBOT Soybean Futures Contract expiring in the November following the expiration month of the third-to-expire contract, weighted 35%, according to Teucrium.
SOYB, which has $11.6 million in assets under management, has jumped almost 18% in the past month. Assuming the Morgan Stanley prediction is correct and that there is more upside in store for soybean futures, SOYB could be poised for CORN-esque gains in the near future.
PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund (DBA) The PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund has been touted as one way for investors to get some corn exposure without focusing solely on that commodity.
Indeed, DBA does fulfill that objective as corn futures are currently the second-largest weight in the index DBA tracks. The largest weight goes to the November 2012 sobyean futures, which account for almost 17.1% of DBA's weight.
With soybeans, corn, and wheat combining for about 46% of DBA's weight, it could just be a matter of time before the $2 billion fund reaches its 52-week high around $34.
Teucrium Agricultural Fund (TAGS) The Teucrium Agricultural Fund is essentially a fund of funds as the $2.8 million product's roster is comprised of stakes in SOYB, CORN, the Teucrium Wheat Fund (WEAT) and the Teucrium Sugar Fund (CANE).
TAGS looks to have 25% of its weight allocated to each of the four products just mentioned and the market value of those holdings can be found here. One knock on TAGS is that it is thinly traded, but the fund's are on fire. In the past month, CANE is the worst performer of the quartet with a gain of almost 12%.
- Morgan Stanley