How to Play The Oil Sands Boom With ETFs (IEO, IPW, FRAK, SNDS)
Canada's embarrassment of oil riches has long been known. By some estimates, the oil sands region in Western Canada is home to the second-largest reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia. And it is not just oil. There is plenty of natural gas in Western Canada as well.
The news might have flown under the radar in the run-up to the Greek elections, but last week Apache (NYSE: APA), one of the largest U.S. independent oil and gas producers, said it validated an outstanding new shale play in the Liard Basin with net estimated sales gas of 48 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (8 billion Boe) across 430,000 acres held with a 100-percent working interest.
"The D-34-K well is one of the best shale wells we've seen in any play," CEO G. Steven Farris said in a statement. "Our analysis indicates that the formation characteristics are remarkably consistent across this large basin."
Bottom line: Canada's oil boom is in full swing. These are the ETFs with which to profit from that boom.
Market Vectors Unconventional Oil & Gas ETF (NYSE: FRAK) The Market Vectors Unconventional Oil & Gas ETF burst onto the scene in February and the fund's post-debut struggles are indicative more of a case of bad timing than a bad idea. Oil's bearish ways over the past several months have sent FRAK lower by 18% since the fund came to market.
Along with being home to familiar U.S.-based energy names such as Occidental Petroleum (NYSE: OXY), EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG) and Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN), Canadian companies comprise about 29% of FRAK's weight. Top Canadian holdings include Canadian Natural Resources (NYSE: CNQ), Encana (NYSE: ECA) and Talisman Energy (NYSE: TLM).
Guggenheim Canadian Energy Income ETF (NYSE: ENY) The Guggenheim Canadian Energy Income ETF is entirely comprised of Canadian firms, making the fund a valid oil sands play. As has been noted, ENY is unique in that it can shift its allocation to favor oil sands producers when oil prices are high and reduce that exposure in favor of high-yielding Canadian energy names as oil prices decline.
Sustainable North American Oil Sands ETF (NYSE: SNDS) The Sustainable North American Oil Sands ETF is newest oil sands ETF on the scene, having debuted just last week. With an expense ratio of 0.5%, SNDS is cheaper than FRAK and ENY. SNDS is uses an equal-weight approach and can hold between 25 and 40 stocks at a given time "depending on the depth of the market."
It is worth noting that SNDS does not focus exclusively on U.S. or Canadian firms. Rather, for companies eligible for inclusion in the index must be active in the oil sands region. Home domicile is not relevant. Holdings include BP (NYSE: BP), Devon, Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and Total (NYSE: TOT).
SPDR S&P International Energy Sector ETF (NYSE: IPW) IPW may not strike investors as an oil sands ETF play, but it is. In fact, it's a premier oil sands ETF. Canada accounts for almost 28% of the fund's country weight and four Canadian companies are found among the ETF's top-10 holdings. In addition, BP, Total and Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A), all of which have footprints in the oil sands region, combine for about 37% of IPW's weight.
iShares Dow Jones U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Index Fund (NYSE: IEO) The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Index Fund's 64 holdings are all U.S.-based companies, but the fund's constituency has plenty of oil sands exposure. Not only does IEO offer one of the largest weights to Apache of any ETF, Occidental, EOG and Devon are also found among the fund's top-five holdings. Combined, that quartet represents 37% of IEO's weight.
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