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Coffee Prices Crumbling: What Is The ETF Impact?

Zacks Equity Research

We certainly enjoy sipping a warm cup of coffee to start the day but when it comes to green unroasted coffee, traders and farmers have no reason to rejoice. This is because their prices are down about 36% in the past one year (as of October 26, 2015) and is currently trading near its two-year low. Meanwhile, the December coffee contract, on the Inter Continental Exchange (ICE) Futures U.S. exchange, is down 41.7% in the last one year (read: Can Coffee ETFs Continue to Stimulate Robust Returns?).

 

There are three factors that added to the long rout in the coffee market. First is the depreciation of the Brazilian real against the dollar. The real was already under pressure due to rising inflation, an investment-grade rating downgrade by Standard and Poor’s and fears of economic recession.

 

After a short respite at the beginning of this month, the real started depreciating again against the greenback amid growing concerns of a budget deficit (excluding interest payments) and other political woes. A weak real encourages exports of the greenback priced coffee from Brazil – the world’s largest producer – as farmers try to capture higher profits. This will lead to an oversupply in the global market and hurt prices.

 

The second factor is the forecast of excessive rainfall in Brazil's top coffee-growing state, Minas Gerais. Weather forecasts indicated monsoon rains in fall and the winter and normal rains during the crucial stage of pod development from mid December to early February. This has erased fears of drought in the region – a primary factor that had caused a surge in coffee prices in early 2014 – and increased the possibility of a longer-than-expected crop season (read: Coffee ETFs Jump on Supply Concerns).

 

Lastly, the move by the Columbian government to lower the benchmark on the quality of beans deemed fit for exports could add to the supply glut in the global market. The threat of a surplus production looms large despite the possibility of dry weather due to El Niño in the coffee-growing regions.

 

The battering in coffee prices had an adverse impact on the funds tracking the coffee market. Below we highlight two ETNs that experienced more than a 4% fall in the past five days and more than a 40% slide in the past one year (as of October 26, 2015) (see all Agricultural ETFs here).

 

iPath Dow Jones-UBS Coffee ETN (JO)

 

This ETN tracks the Dow Jones-UBS Coffee Subindex Total Return, providing the returns that are available through an investment in the futures contracts on the commodity of coffee. The note has garnered nearly $108 million in assets and trades in a solid volume of 167,000 shares on average. The product is expensive with 75 bps in annual fees. The note was down nearly 5% in the last five days and about 48% in the past one year. It has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) with a High risk outlook.

 

iPath Pure Beta Coffee ETN (CAFE)

 

This ETN follows the Barclays Capital Coffee Pure Beta TR Index, providing returns that are available through an investment in the futures contracts in the coffee markets. The index consists of a single futures contract but it has a unique roll structure which selects contracts using the Pure Beta Series 2 Methodology. CAFE is quite overlooked as it has gathered only $5 million in AUM and is thinly traded with an average volume of roughly 7,000 shares. This note also charges 75 bps in annual fees and lost 4% in the past five days and 44% in the last one year. It also carries a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a High risk outlook (read: Coffee ETFs Tumble, What's Behind the Slump).

 

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IPATH-BB COFE (JO): ETF Research Reports
 
IPATH-PB COFFEE (CAFE): ETF Research Reports
 
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