Shipping ETF Returns to Choppy Seas - TheStreet

Shipping ETF Returns to Choppy Seas

The Claymore Shipping ETF has returned to a sector that is facing difficult times.
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) --- ETF investors once again have the opportunity to play the shipping industry using the Claymore Shipping ETF (SEA) - Get Report, but the fund returns at a difficult time for the sector.

In April, Claymore was forced to close this popular fund due to an unfortunate shareholder snafu. When the fund's sponsor, Claymore, was purchased by Guggenheim Partners in late 2009, shareholders were asked to vote to approve a new investment advisory agreement.

After the voting deadline came and passed, not enough votes were turned in. Having failed to reach a quorum, in late April Claymore was forced to close the fund. SEA's final day of trading was April 27.

With SEA officially out of the picture, shipping fans were forced to rely on the

iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Index Fund

(IYT) - Get Report

or the

Fidelity Select Transportation Fund

(FSRFX) - Get Report

to get their maritime fix. Unfortunately, the shipping industry represents a mere 9% of IYT's total index, and as of April 29, 0.3% of the FSRFX portfolio.

SEA 2.0, which returned to trading on June 11, not only trades under the same ticker symbol as its predecessor, it also tracks the same index: the Delta Global Shipping Index.

This index is comprised of 30 individual companies from various sectors within the broader shipping industry. The fleets managed by the companies underlying SEA consist of both tanker and container ships which are focused on the transportation of goods such as iron ore, grains, natural gas and oil.

Top holdings include

Pacific Basin Shipping


Overseas Shipholding

(OSG) - Get Report


Navios Maritime Partners

(NMM) - Get Report


Ship Finance International

(SFL) - Get Report


Looking at the fund's holding breakdown, SEA's assets appear to be allocated in a laddered fashion. Top holdings represent approximately 4% of the fund, middle-tier holdings account for between 3% and 4% and the smallest positions represent between 2.5% and 3% of the fund. By weighting the fund in this fashion, no single position within SEA will steer the fund's overall performance.

SEA's appeal, however, is not only its pure-play exposure to the shipping industry. In 2010, this fund has also attracted interest due to its heavy weighting in Greece.

Whereas many fund providers wouldn't want to be caught with heavy exposure to Greece due to its current debt issues, it is impossible for SEA to avoid the nation's markets. Representing one of the largest portions of its economy, the Greek Merchant Marine is the largest merchant fleet in the world.

Reflecting this nation's dominance in global the shipping industry, Greece accounts for the single largest geographic chunk of SEA, with 18.5% of the fund's portfolio. The U.S., Bermuda and Japan are next, at 12.3%, 10.3%, and 10.2% of assets, respectively.

So far, investor interest in SEA has been strong. The fund currently changes hands more than 80,000 times each day, making it adequately liquid for most investors.

Looking to the near and long term future, the forecast for SEA's performance is questionable. Obviously, the fund's heavy exposure to Greece will pose a threat to the fund's future stability as Europe remains embattled in its debt crisis.

Additionally, the recent dismal performance from the Baltic Dry Index may leave some investors concerned about the shipping industry's prospects. The Baltic Dry Index tracks the average shipping rates for dry goods and is typically viewed as a leading macro indicator. Last week, an increase in the supply of vessels and weaker demand caused the index to take a nosedive, suffering its biggest loss since 2008.

With the return of SEA, investors once again have the opportunity to track the performance of the maritime industry from a pure play perspective. The fund's future, however, ultimately depends on the global economy's ability to maintain its footing on the road to recovery.

-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

At the time of publication, Dion Money Management was not long any of the 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.