Economy Investment

As OPEC meets, new energy ETFs spy opportunity in oil's decline

Credit - Bloomberg

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Cushing Asset Management has a lot riding on the meeting of OPEC in Vienna Thursday—specifically, the success of its first exchange-traded funds.

Thursday 06, December 2018

(Bloomberg)--On the heels of the worst month for crude since 2008, the Dallas-based investment firm, which manages about $3.3 billion in energy-related portfolios, is listing four sector ETFs connected to petroleum. The funds—which focus on energy, utilities, transportation and the energy supply chain—will look to deliver extra yield by investing some of their assets in companies set up as master limited partnerships.

It’s either terrible timing, or a stroke of genius. With oil having lost 22 per cent in November and now trading at around $54 a barrel, OPEC could put a floor under the price by cutting its production. But with President Donald Trump pushing for lower prices, there’s a chance that exporters could let the price hold at this level or slide even further.

“Calling a bottom is always rife with a challenge,” said Todd Sunderland, Cushing’s head of risk management and quant strategies. “If they do what I think most people expect with a reasonable cut, we do have a decent launching pad going into 2019 for energy and energy equities. But it’s a really difficult call.”

The funds won’t be cheap, carrying a fee of 0.65 per cent, more than eight times the 0.08 per cent charged by the least expensive energy ETF run by Fidelity Investments.

Cushing will allocate up to 24 per cent of each fund’s assets to so-called MLPs, which operate primarily in the energy sector and tend to yield more than other equities. MLPs aren’t part of traditional indexed funds as their structure can necessitate laborious tax disclosures if they exceed 25 per cent of a fund’s portfolio. Ironically, the master limited partnership model for oil and natural gas conduits has fallen out of favour this year, due in part to a tax change proposed in March that pummelled the companies’ unit prices.

The firm has previously provided MLP indexes to exchange-traded notes run by Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

TAGS : Cushing Asset Management , OPEC, Todd Sunderland, Fidelity Investments, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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