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Full Speed Ahead for Shipping ETF

The Claymore/Delta Global Shipping ETF has been on a tear this year, and that should continue as demand for U.S. exports increases.
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) -- So far this year, the

Claymore/Delta Global Shipping

(SEA) - Get Invesco Shipping ETF Report

has outperformed the broader market by a wide margin, and there is reason to believe that its winning streak will continue.

Year to date, the ETF is up 14.8%, while the

S&P 500

has risen only 4.5%.

The world economy is coming out of recession, and the U.S. is finding that there is strong demand for its exports. Increased bilateral trade will be good for shippers because it means they can charge for cargo when their ships leave the U.S. and not just for U.S.-bound imports.

Many exporters are struggling with delays because there are too few ships in American ports, and this will give the shipping industry an opportunity to reduce its idle capacity. During the recession, companies put ships on standby, reducing capacity, in the same way that airlines reduce flights when passenger demand is lower.

The result was that in 2009, about 500 ships, or 11% of the total shipping industry's capacity, was idle. If these companies can step up to meet the new demand for export shipping from the U.S., it will mean greater profits and better earnings for the components of SEA.

The trend of increasing exports from the U.S. will also enjoy support from the government, as the Obama administration has voiced support for a reduction in America's trade deficit.

It is not only the export picture from the U.S. that is improving. Importers to America have also reported that there has been difficulty in securing cargo space for shipments, meaning that a shipping recovery is proceeding due to increasing consumption that will only get stronger as unemployment decreases in the U.S.

The fund provides exposure to shippers from multiple countries. SEA allocates 18.0% of its net assets to Greek companies. Shippers from the U.S. account for 13.0% of the fund, while firms registered in Bermuda and the Bahamas account for 9.9% and 8.5%, respectively.

A significant amount of weighting is placed on Asia, and Japan, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore account for 35.3% of SEA.

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In terms of the allocation among the fund's 31 companies, the shipper that receives the most net assets accounts for 4.9% of SEA while the shipper that receives the least net assets accounts for 2.0%, making this ETF well-balanced. Some of the companies in the top 10 holdings of SEA include,

Teekay Tankers

(TNK) - Get Teekay Tankers Ltd. Class A Report


Ship Finance International

(SFL) - Get SFL Corporation Limited Report



(SSW) - Get Seaspan Corporation Report

(SSW) and

General Maritime



In return for providing investors with balanced and international exposure, the ETF has an expense ratio of 0.65%. The fund has adequate liquidity and trades at an average daily volume of more than 200,000 shares.

Overall, SEA is an investment in the overall global recovery, and in particular, the recovery of countries that account for a large portion of world trade, such as the U.S. Shippers are at a critical point right now where there is clearly a demand for their services, but there is concern that putting idle ships back in action will be harmful if recovery stalls or reverses.

For investors betting that economic growth will continue to improve around the world, SEA represents the best way to cash in on the success of shippers.

Last month

I wrote


Market Vectors Steel

(SLX) - Get VanEck Steel ETF Report


Market Vectors Coal

(KOL) - Get VanEck Vectors Coal ETF Report

were a better play on economic recovery than SEA, and since then, KOL and SLX beat SEA by about 5% and 10%, respectively. However, the shipping bottlenecks facing importers and exporters are likely to be more supportive of SEA moving forward, and the fund should be more competitive with these other two ETFs.

-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

At the time of publication, Dion had no positions in equities mentioned.

Don Dion is president and founder of

Dion Money Management

, a fee-based investment advisory firm to affluent individuals, families and nonprofit organizations, where he is responsible for setting investment policy, creating custom portfolios and overseeing the performance of client accounts. Founded in 1996 and based in Williamstown, Mass., Dion Money Management manages assets for clients in 49 states and 11 countries. Dion is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and Maine and has more than 25 years' experience working in the financial markets, having founded and run two publicly traded companies before establishing Dion Money Management.

Dion also is publisher of the Fidelity Independent Adviser family of newsletters, which provides to a broad range of investors his commentary on the financial markets, with a specific emphasis on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. With more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and 29 other countries, Fidelity Independent Adviser publishes six monthly newsletters and three weekly newsletters. Its flagship publication, Fidelity Independent Adviser, has been published monthly for 11 years and reaches 40,000 subscribers.