- June 18, 2013
- Where a Resources Manager is Uncovering a Sweet Find
After traveling nearly 6,000 miles by plane, helicopter and jeep, Evan Smith, portfolio manager at U.S. Global, is walking along a dirt path in Kenema past dilapidated shops covered with rusted, corrugated metal. He can hardly believe he has arrived at his destination. Surrounded by hundreds of miles of forest and savannah, it's tough to imagine an agricultural diamond-in-the-rough nearby.
Kenema is in Sierra Leone, a country in the Western part of sub-Saharan Africa with 5.6 million people recovering from a decade-long civil war that ended 11 years ago. Today, the rural people, mostly farmers and fishermen, are peaceful and friendly, says Evan, who explored the opportunity for the Global Resources Fund (PSPFX).
To get here, Evan flew from San Antonio, Texas to the largest city in Sierra Leone, Freetown, making stops in New York City, Ghana and Liberia. Then he boarded a four-person helicopter to fly east 150 miles, enduring heart-pounding drops and lifts between clouds and mountains before safely arriving at a cocoa plantation development.
The heart of Africa has been beating strong in recent years due to elevated commodity prices and resilient domestic demand, despite the global economic slowdown. Among the sub-Saharan African countries, Sierra Leone was the fastest growing country last year, according to the World Bank. Its economy experienced growth that is as rare today as Fancy Red diamonds. GDP increased a whopping 18 percent.
Non-profit organizations are taking note of the country’s progress. The Freedom House recently categorized Sierra Leone as a free country, which is unusual in sub-Saharan Africa. Among 50 countries and 900 million people, only 13 percent of people are considered free under the organization’s definition.
Sierra Leone is also becoming more attractive for business. In the World Bank’s Doing Business 2013 report, the country ranked 140, up from 148. One of its main findings this year is that “among the 50 economies with the biggest improvements since 2005, the largest share—a third—are in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Looking ahead, these countries are expected to be among the fastest growing economies in the world. The International Monetary Fund estimates that out of the top 20 countries with the highest projected compound annual growth rate from 2013 through 2017, 10 are in this area of the world.
This is the growth Agriterra is looking to capture in its development of a cocoa plantation that Evan traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to check out. Agriterra is a London-based company that invests in African agricultural businesses to serve the fast-growing economies of frontier markets, such as Mozambique and Sierra Leone.
When Evan toured the grounds, he snapped pictures of the initial stages of development, as the company nurtures 250,000 seedlings in a technically advanced and irrigated nursery. Each cocoa sprout is planted in its own bag, under a canopy of screens which provides just the right amount of light. An irrigation system nourishes the plants, delivering the perfect amount of water and fertilizer.
After a few months, the seedlings will be mature enough to be transplanted to an area that provides the right amount of shade. You can see a three-meter grid of stakes designating where each plant will go in this photo below.
You may not think about where your Godiva chocolate originates, but the areas are limited. Cocoa grows best along the equator belt between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Tropical conditions of plentiful rain and high humidity are ideal and “shading is indispensable in a cocoa tree's early years,” says the International Cocoa Organization (ICC).
While Sierra Leone is geographically situated along this band, it isn’t among the largest cocoa-producing countries. Most of the world’s chocolate originates from beans grown in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia. Cocoa has traditionally been raised on small, individually owned farms, many of which have aging plants and therefore, lower yields. But with Agriterra’s advanced applications and solid operations, the development seems to be off to a sweet start.
So why is an oil and materials manager getting his boots dirty in Sierra Leone? The cocoa plantation is only one example of a company producing a commodity that we believe will be sought by the world’s growing middle class population. As more and more people reach this status, consumption of discretionary items, including chocolate, should increase.
Rather than limit the fund to energy and materials stocks, the portfolio managers take a multi-faceted approach, looking at 10 industries. By including companies such as grain processors, plantations and ranch lands, and agriculture companies, such as chemical and fertilizer stocks, we believe the fund can enhance returns with less volatility.
That’s why we keep our eyes open and boots on the ground because you never know where in the world you’ll find a sweet or savory opportunity.
Thanks to Evan Smith, who contributed to this commentary.
Please consider carefully a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information, obtain a fund prospectus by visiting www.usfunds.com or by calling 1-800-US-FUNDS (1-800-873-8637). Read it carefully before investing. Distributed by U.S. Global Brokerage, Inc.
All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.
Foreign and emerging market investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and less public disclosure, as well as economic and political risk. Because the Global Resources Fund concentrates its investments in a specific industry, the fund may be subject to greater risks and fluctuations than a portfolio representing a broader range of industries.
Holdings in the Global Resources Fund as a percentage of net assets as of 3/31/13: Agriterra Ltd 0.57%
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- August 3, 2012
- 100 Innovative Ways World Cities Are Improving Our Urban Landscape
KPMG recently published Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition which showcases the greatest infrastructure projects around the globe. The 100-page publication covers nearly every continent with projects in developed markets including Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia to those in emerging markets such as Brazil, India, Mexico and Turkey.
The focus of the report is to highlight education, health, recycling, waste management, and water solutions to promote better urban living. About half of the world’s population is living in a city someplace on the globe and this number is only set to rise. However, the challenges that cities face are not insurmountable: “All around the world, we see inspirational and innovative examples of projects that are sure to transform not only the urban setting, but also the way the world’s urban population interact with their infrastructure, their governments, their cities and the environment,” says KPMG.
The report highlights too many projects to list here, including the infrastructure for the World Cup and the Olympics that is transforming Brazil, the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City that is collaboratively being developed by China and Singapore, and the Kartal Pendik Project in Turkey.
By clicking the link above, you will be directed to a third-party website. U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this website and is not responsible for its content.
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- July 26, 2012
- Capturing the Making of a Bridge
The bridge at Hoover Dam is a fantastic example of breathtaking infrastructure built in the U.S. Linking Phoenix and Las Vegas, a 2,000 foot long bridge now arches over the Colorado River, shaving as much as two hours off a driver’s commute between the cities.
Nearly halfway completed in this photo, it’s the first concrete-steel composite arch bridge built in the U.S., named after decorated Korean War veteran and governor of Nevada Mike O’Callaghan, and Pat Tillman, who gave up a multi-million dollar football career to enlist in the U.S. Army and fight in Afghanistan where he was killed by friendly fire.
Construction for the $114 million arch began in 2005 as part of the Hoover Dam Bypass Project and was open for traffic on October 19, 2010. The photographer of the image is Jamey Stillings from Santa Fe, who was in between assignments when he took a road trip to capture Lake Mead’s mineral deposits. Heading home, Hoover Dam’s infrastructure caught his eye and compelled him to return to the area by helicopter and car to photograph the infrastructure and surrounding area. The New York Times Magazine featured an incredible slideshow showing the tremendous scale of Stillings’ project.
According to an article in The New York Times about Stillings, his passion was fueled by “the wider historical significance of the construction. The Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, the Hoover Dam—the imagery their births created is burned into the collective memory.”
We believe the bridge underscores the ongoing need for natural resources. You’ll find more awe-inspiring stories like this one in the latest Shareholder Report, as we cover what you need, what you want and how much it will cost.
Click on the link below to see the online version now. If you’d like to read it in print, call us at 1-800-873-8637 or email at email@example.com.
All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.
By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.
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- June 10, 2011
- World's Greatest Infrastructure Projects
Cities around the world take turns owning the title for the tallest skyscraper, the longest bridge or the deepest mine. Covering nearly every continent of the world, here’s our current list, which I’m sure will change over the next few years.
1. Tallest Skyscraper:
At a height of 2,700 feet, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai has 162 floors and was completed in 2010. If you’re looking for sheer quantity of skyscrapers, Hong Kong has the largest number of high-rise buildings in the world but Benidorm, Spain has the most high-rises per person.
2. Longest Train Track:
The network of rails called the Trans-Siberian Railroad in Russia is the longest train track in the world. The track connects Moscow to the far east of Russia and to the Sea of Japan. An important economic and military development, the railroad has been credited with the growth of several larger cities in Siberia.
3. Longest Railway Tunnel:
The Gothard Base Tunnel, located beneath the Swiss Alps, will soon be the longest railway tunnel in the world. Set to be completed in 2017, the $12 billion project will be longer than the undersea Seikan Tunnel in Japan. With a route length of 35.4 miles, the tunnel should boost trade and travel in Europe.
4. Largest Single-Dish Telescope:
The Arecibo Observatory in San Juan, Puerto Rico is the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope. You’ll probably recognize the telescope’s 1,000-foot-wide telescope from Hollywood appearances in both the James Bond movie “Golden Eye” and in “Contact” with actress Jodie Foster.
5. Highest Residential High-Rise Building:
The highest residential high-rise building is located in Gold Coast City, Australia. The Q1 Tower is both a resort facility and offers exclusive luxury apartments with a “stunning beachside location,” an observation deck 771 feet above the ground, and 360 degree views.
6. World’s First Billion-Dollar Home:
A 27-story skyscraper in downtown Mumbai carrying a price tag near $2 billion is the world’s first billion-dollar home. The home is owned by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, who runs petrochemical giant Reliance Industries.
7. Tallest Engineered Dam:
The Nurek Dam, located on the Vakhsh River in Tajikistan, is the tallest engineered dam in the world. The dam is an important source of electricity for the country.
8. Longest Cable-Stayed Bridge:
Spanning 8,146 meters above the Jiangsu Province in China, the Suzhou-Nantong Highway Bridge is the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge. The bridge has linked the two prosperous cities of Nantog and Suzhou, shortening the journey between the two from a four-hour ferry ride to just a one-hour drive across the bridge.
9. World’s Deepest Mine:
South Africa’s Mponeng mine is the world’s deepest, sending miners and equipment 2.4 miles underground in search of gold.
10. Busiest Airport in the World:
The busiest airport in the world is the Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport in the U.S. The Georgia airport saw 89 million passengers in 2010. It’s also notorious for lengthy delays.
None of U.S. Global Investors Funds held any of the securities mentioned in this article as of March 31, 2011.
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- March 24, 2010
- Spotlight: Global Infrastructure
India’s prime minister says his country’s “creaking infrastructure” is becoming a pressing problem and called for $1 trillion to be spent between 2012 and 2017.
The goal is astounding, but so is the need. Many of India’s 1.1 billion people live without access to clean water, reliable electricity and stable shelter.
India’s rapid urbanization is overwhelming its cities. A special Financial Times report said that only 25 percent of India’s large cities has adequate transportation systems.
India isn’t alone in its vital infrastructure needs. The International Monetary Fund says Asia has to invest $8 trillion over the next decade to fight poverty and boost productivity. In Mexico, President Felipe Calderon wants to raise some $6.6 billion in infrastructure investments by 2012.
China was early to recognize infrastructure investment as an economic growth driver, and the bulk of its 2009 stimulus package went to that purpose. It appears that other governments are seeing the light.
Don’t forget that tomorrow we will be hosting a special Web presentation called “Building a Better World: The Global Infrastructure Opportunity.” Our Global MegaTrends Fund team and researchers from Macquarie Group will participate.
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