During the opening months of 2011, the dining industry faced steep hurdles as crop prices powered along a uphill trajectory and eventually revisited the breathtaking levels seen during 2008. In recent weeks, however, the full-steam-ahead action that defined the food industry in the first quarter has subsided as individual pockets of the agriculture spectrum have begun to break away from one another.
Choppy action from agricultural commodities will help relieve some of the pressure weighing on dining establishments underlying PEJ. The leisure industry-tracking PEJ will likely also get a lift as input costs slide. The fund sets aside a substantial portion of its portfolio to restaurants including Starbucks (SBUX), McDonald's (MCD), Yum! Brands (YUM) and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD).
iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Index Fund (IYT)
The transportation industry should be watched closely as commodities remain shaky. Although the sector as a whole has already held up well throughout the market's multi-week rough patch, the prospects for many top players will likely improve further as fuel prices head south.Last week, for instance, in comments made to Reuters following the company's strong quarterly earnings report, FedEx (FDX) CEO Fred Smith cited falling crude prices as a major advantage for the company as it heads into the second half of the year. As earnings season ramps up in the weeks ahead, other members of the transportation industry like CSX (CSX) will step up the plate and report their respective quarterly numbers and outlooks for the second half of the year. If FedEx's performance is any indication for what is in store for this industry, I expect transports to be a standout performer in the months to come. Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.