Commodities continue to slump.
Prices for gold, silver, oil, natural gas and other commodities are languishing, in some cases, at levels not seen for years. ETF commodity funds have also struggled.
But for individuals with a long-term perspective, this may be the perfect time to invest in commodities. Prices will eventually rebound A number of major mining companies have also done an admirable job cutting costs and improving efficiency. They will be well prepared to address returning demand.
That is likely to occur when the Chinese economy bounces back and other emerging and European markets hit smoother waters. A calming of geopolitical issues that are creating jitters among investors and companies, including terrorism in the supply-rich Middle East, will also help. As conditions globally improve, demand is likely to pick up for gold, silver, other metals, oil and gas.
To be sure, there are likely to be more rough times for commodities before things get better. Oil is trading at about $40 a barrel, its lowest level since 2009, and some analysts worry that there will be further drops to new record lows. Consider that the Australian dollar, which heavily ties into a commodity-driven economy, has slipped below .73 cents.
Still, other analysts think that there could soon be a turning point. They base their opinions partly on historical precedent. Commodities sank in the mid-90s but boomed shortly after the millennium.
Some analysts are also buoyed by improved efficiency at mining companies.
These companies are operating at or around their marginal costs.
Many of them have cut bonuses and perks that rivaled those at top professional and financial services firms and healthcare companies. They have also slashed spending on new initiatives and are focusing more on core assets. This more disciplined approach has helped these organizations restore confidence in themselves. A good portion of the natural resources industry has a solid capital structure and governance.
There are several other reasons to be contrarian and invest in commodities. Given the sound state of many industrialized economies, including the U.S., it is unlikely that there will a 2008-like crash that will take the commodities market with it.
Commodities can provide protection against inflation risks. Moreover, with prices so low, it's a great time to buy.
It is important to remember that the performance of commodities is cyclical like other types of investments. Investors who have commodities stakes would be making a mistake by selling before the down cycle ends, as it will inevitably. Those who don't own commodities investments would do well to add them to their portfolios. Both groups will just need a little more patience.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.