NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As a severe heat wave places strains on the global wheat supply, agricultural funds may stand to gain from the spike in prices seen in wheat and corn. Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (MOO) - Get Report is the most concentrated play, but Fidelity Select Chemicals (FSCHX) - Get Report offers diversified exposure.
MOO provides investors with primary exposure to the industrials material and consumer goods sectors, which account for 60% and 40% of the portfolio respectively. Meanwhile, FSCHX offers a mutual fund alternative with heavier coverage of the industrial materials sector. This fund has demonstrated higher returns in 2010, but holds many of the materials companies in MOO.
Bboth FSCHX and MOO are doing well. FSCHX's second largest holding,
beat its earnings estimates by almost 25% when it reported in July.
The firm sees an opportunity in agribusiness . The company's executive vice president released acknowledged the imminent importance of innovative agricultural technologies in the wake of drought, a burgeoning food supply, and price spikes.
As an agriculturally backed fund, much of MOO's portfolio is relegated to companies associated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, agricultural production and agricultural machinery.
MOO's five largest holdings are
While the fund has lost 1.19% year to date, it has picked up as of late, outperforming FSCHX with a return of 6.2% versus 1.5% for FSCHX over the past three months.
Meanwhile, FSCHX has benefited lately from the agribusiness exposure. The fund's top five holdings include
, DuPont, Monsanto,
FSCHX's top 10 holdings currently account for 67.6% of the fund's total assets, and is highly weighted in the industrial materials sector at 90.75% (consumer goods and consumer services follow with 6.87% and 1.63% weightings, respectively). Year to date, the fund has gained 2.3%.
In terms of a top play, FSCHX's portfolio reflects elements from those of MOO, and thus will benefit from MOO's positive returns. Although FSCHX has outperformed MOO year to date, the Market Vectors fund has pulled ahead in performance, partially thanks to supply related price fluctuations in agricultural commodities.
Overall, FSCHX looks to be the more conservative play and has been a bit steadier over the past two years. Meanwhile, MOO is the more volatile investment because it relies on the agricultural sector of the economy, but in the current conditions, that may lead to greater returns.
-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.
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At the time of publication, Dion Money Management does own any of the equities mentioned.
Don Dion is president and founder of
, 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.