Market Overview

Four Agriculture Equity ETFs Your Broker Forgot To Mention


In 2000, global consumption of crop nutrients nitrogen, phosphate and potash was less than 150 million tons. That number is projected to grow to nearly 200 million tones by 2014. It's hard to envision in the current environment, but global economic growth is and will continue to drive demand for higher-end food products in the emerging markets.

China and India are the largest fertilizer consuming countries, together accounting for more than 40% of world fertilizer use, according to Potash Corp. (NYSE: POT). Both countries have to import the bulk of their fertilizer consumption.

All of these numbers fortify the belief that agriculture may be one of the trades of the decade, but investors don't need to dabble in the risky futures market to profit. There's a fair amount of equity-based agriculture ETFs out there in addition to the king, the Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (NYSE: MOO) that are poised to profit from favorable fertilizer trends.

Here are four your broker probably forgot to tell you about.

Global X Farming ETF (NYSE: BARN): The Global X Farming ETF is new on the scene, having made its debut in June 2011. The 51-stock ETF is a good mix of companies that help farmers grow more crops such as Monsanto (NYSE: MON) and companies such as Deere (NYSE: DE) that help the farmers harvest those crops. The U.S. is BARN's biggest country weight at over 26%, but 17 other countries are represented in the new ETF.

IndexIQ Global Agribusiness Small Cap ETF (NYSE: CROP): In terms of concepts, CROP is one of the better new ETFs to come to market in 2011. Simply put, this is the first ETF to offer investors exposure to the small-cap side of the ag equity universe. That also means CROP is home to few potential takeover targets. Home to 50 stocks and a 0.75% expense ratio. Investors should note CROP does NOT move in lockstep with MOO.

Jefferies TR/J CRB Global Agriculture Fund (NYSE: CRBA): When CRBA made is debut in 2009, it looked like a possible rival to MOO. It holds many of the same stocks such as Deere, Monsanto and Potash Corp. (NYSE: POT) just to name a few, but CRBA has only attracted about $10 million in assets under management. The Jefferies offering is another option for investors looking for global agribusiness exposure as foreign stocks account for two-thirds of the fund's weight.

PowerShares Global Agriculture Portfolio (Nasdaq: PAGG): Now three years-old, the PowerShares Global Agriculture Portfolio has attracted over $130 million in AUM, ensuring the ETF will be with us for a while. This is more of a crop nutrient fund, so don't expect to find Deere or other machinery stocks in here. Eight countries beyond the U.S. are represented in PAGG, plus there's an “unclassified” designation with a 13% weight, so the ETF does live up to its global billing. That said, PAGG has moved in unison with MOO and CRBA year-to-date.

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