Keep Your Eye on Raw Materials: A Bull Market Could Be Coming
As one bull market appears to be nearing its end, another may soon be on the horizon. Following years of underinvestment and tepid growth, raw materials in the form of copper, aluminum and nickel could be poised for a dramatic rebound.
The Next Bull Market?
Stocks, cryptocurrencies and even energy have taken the shine away from primary metals in recent years, but that could be about to change as investors look for new market-beating revenue streams. According to The Wall Street Journal, prices of copper, aluminum and nickel could rise more than 40% in the coming years as markets grapple with a severe supply crunch following a prolonged period of underinvestment.
This year, spending among global mining companies is expected to fall to less than a third of 2013 levels, when investment in new mines topped $121 billion. The year before, spending reached $144.05 billion, according to data from Wood Mackenzie. In 2018, total spend on new mining projects is expected to reach $35.4 billion. For many analysts, this means a major supply crunch is on the horizon.
On the demand side, the growth and widespread adoption of electric vehicles will only exacerbate the supply gap as manufacturers raise order books for copper and aluminum. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the number of electric vehicles on the road is forecast to reach 125 million by 2030 compared with just 3.1 million in 2017. The surge in electric vehicles also means higher demand for lithium and cobalt, two key components in electric-car batteries.
A growing global economy also playing into the hands of raw materials. Although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is forecasting slower growth over the next two years, the downbeat view is largely tied to U.S.-China trade relations. Emerging-market growth remains an important driver for commodities.
Assets to Consider
Market participants wishing to gain exposure to raw materials have several options to choose from. In addition to trading futures contracts, resource-rich exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are an easy way to play the market, especially for the long haul. Some of the most notable are SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF (XME), Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF (LIT), iShares MSCI Global Metals & Mining Producers ETF (PICK) and Global X Copper Miners ETF (COPX). The SPDR S&P Global Natural Resources ETF (GNR) is also an option for those looking for a higher concentration of energy companies.
In terms of individual stocks, large miners such as Glencore Plc (GLEN), Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) and Vale SA (VALE 3) also provide a good option for diversifying into the sector. In addition to being global mining heavyweights, these companies share something else in common: they have significantly reduced capital expenditure in recent years (once again, this plays into the narrative that supply constraints will drive up the value of raw materials).
Investors betting big on the electric-car revolution have no doubt placed Tesla Inc. (TSLA) on their radar. For all its recent troubles, Elon Musk’s company recently reported a massive earnings beat, including a return to profitability for the first time since Q3 2016.
In addition to Tesla, automotive suppliers are also poised for a major breakout should the electric-car revolution play out as expected. Some companies to put on the short list are Aptiv PLC (APTV), Delphi Technologies PLC (DLPH), Magna International Inc. (MGA) and TE Connectivity Ltd. (TEL).
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