Can emerging markets benefit from stimulus?

The global economy might grow more strongly now, and commodity prices in particular could see a nice boost.

By Jim J. Jubak Sep 13, 2012 4:21PM
One day doesn't a post-Federal Reserve/QE3 rally make, but as the first session comes to an end since the Fed announced that it would buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities a month, continue Operation Twist to force down long-term interest rates, and keep short-term interest rates near 0% at least through mid-2015, I think I can see a few patterns.

One that should interest investors and traders is that the biggest beneficiaries of the Fed’s move may be emerging stock markets that have been hit hard whenever confidence in the global economy has wavered. And in those markets, the biggest winners may be commodity stocks. Those shares got a double dose of good news from Thursday’s announcement: first, that the global economy might grow more strongly than pessimists had projected, and second, that a weaker U.S. dollar would push up commodity prices.

If you're looking for commodity sectors to study, I'd suggest copper and iron ore.

Copper shares have been on a tear since the June 1 low on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX). Shares of Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX), for example, are up 31.4% from that low until the close on Sept. 13. Copper has held up better and rallied faster than commodities such as aluminum and iron ore because the underlying supply/demand story has been more supportive. Copper miners are having trouble expanding production and in some cases, in Chile, for instance, 2011 and 2012 have brought significant supply disruptions. My favorites in this sector include Freeport McMoRan, because the company is coming off its own supply disruptions from a tough strike at its Grasberg Indonesia mine, Southern Copper (SCCO), and Jiangxi Copper (JIXAY). Freeport McMoRan is a member of my Jubak Picks 50 long-term portfolio. 

Shares of iron ore miners have been killed in 2012 with Brazil's Vale (VALE), for example, showing a decline of 25.6% in 2012 (versus a gain of 2.78% for Freeport McMoRan for the year.) As with copper and other commodities a falling dollar will give support to iron ore prices. Hopes of faster economic growth will also push the stocks up. And the falling price of iron ore has hurt finances at mining companies badly enough so that they’ve had to postpone planned expansion. My favorites in this sector include Vale, the most concentrated play on iron in the sector, and BHP Billiton (BHP), a bigger and more diversified Australian miner.

I’d look on buys on copper and iron ore stocks with different timetables. The fundamentals for iron ore are much shakier than for copper. Chinese steel makers apparently have considerable stockpiles of iron ore and it looks like Chinese steel production has been kept artificially high with subsidies from local governments. I’d look on iron ore stocks as a relatively short-term trade here. The fundamental story for copper, as well as the commodity’s larger exposure to the recovering home building industry in the United States, give me more confidence in copper over a longer period than for iron ore.

At the time of this writing, Jim Jubak didn't own shares of any companies mentioned in this post in personal portfolios. The mutual fund he manages, Jubak Global Equity Fund (JUBAX), may or may not own positions in any stock mentioned. The fund owned shares of Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold as of the end of June. For a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of the most recent quarter, see the fund's portfolio here. 
3Comments
Sep 13, 2012 7:58PM
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Copper is apparently a good investment for a few years.  I wonder about our economy, though.  Both Reagan and Bush said that we need a strong dollar.  I see the US dollar weakening over the next few years, and I beleive that our National debt is out of control.  We had better start paying back some of the money the Fed is borrowing, and we better start hiring people to work.  It is a sorrowful future we and our children and our grandchildren have with the policies of this Fed and our current White House administration.  We need real economists in our government, not just those who kick the can down the road. 

Sep 18, 2012 3:45PM
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The Fed is trying to cover for Obama's economic failures. It will not help, but it will devalue the dollar even more, and hey maybe another credit downgrade to boot. Fire Obama and the Fed!
Sep 13, 2012 10:59PM
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This has something to do with China!  I know it!  CHINA CHINA CHINA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Maybe he has a thing for Geisha's.

 

CHINA!

 

 

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