First Quarter 2021

The Global Resources Fund had a total return of 7.21% in the first quarter of 2021, slightly underperforming its benchmark, the S&P Global Natural Resources Index, which returned 11.81%. See complete fund performance here.

Past performance does not guarantee future results. Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance data quoted. The principal value and investment return of an investment will fluctuate so that your shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Performance data quoted represents past performance.

Commodity and crude oil prices performed strongly with vaccinations up and many states relaxed Covid-19 restrictions on travel and entertainment. Traditional oil and gas energy sectors performed better than clean energy stocks with automobile driving on the rise as workers return to the office. With interest rates still low, housing has emerged as one the strongest sectors in the economy. Electronics suppliers also ran shot on material with tin supplies becoming news headlines. Producer prices are rising and price hikes are being passed on to the consumer.  

Strengths

  • The three best performing commodities were lumber, tin and crude oil, up 57.06%, 34.04% and 21.50%, respectively. Lumber continues to benefit from strong housing demand firmed up with low mortgage rates as city dwellers started a migration to less densely populated spaces. Tin is used in electronics and it is rare that it makes the news, but logistic supply chains across Asia seem to be constrained such that computer chip shortages around the world are even impacting auto manufacturing. Crude oil has likely peaked in the near-term.
  • The fund’s best sector performance, relative to the benchmark, came from its overweight positions in precious metals, underweight in agriculture chemicals and underweight in paper and pulp.
  • The fund’s biggest contributor to performance was Talon Metals, which was up 41.12% with an average fund weight of 4.23% and contributed 88 basis points to the fund. Talon, which is drilling out major nickel and copper in Minnesota, released a 110.65-meter drill hole intersecting semi-massive and disseminated sulfides. A second sulfide horizon was encountered even deeper. These drill holes show the project is bigger than previously thought.

Weaknesses

  • The worst performing commodities were gold, silver and coffee, down 10.04%, 7.52% and 4.89%, respectively. The gold price had its worst quarterly start in two years with silver not far behind. Rising interest rates and the stronger dollar were the culprits. Coffee prices climbed most of the first quarter but later slumped in late March to a loss.
  • The worst sector performance, relative to the benchmark, came from our underweighting in integrated oils, electric products and oil & gas production.
  • Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Salazar Resources were the three worst detractors to fund performance, losing 95 basis points, 47 basis points and 43 basis points, respectively.

Outlook

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that global oil demand will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 and that growth will be subdued thereafter amidst new working habits and a shift away from fossil fuels. The IEA believes that fuel consumption will average just over 101 million barrels a day in 2023, and oil demand in the middle of the decade will be about 2.5 million barrels lower than was projected last year. The agency also expects electric vehicles (EVs) to become more prevalent this decade, and with an increase in efficiency of internal combustion engines, demand for gasoline is expected to stagnate. The report adds that if governments act more swiftly on environmental reforms than expected, and consumers eschew business travel and embrace recycling, about 5.6 million barrels of daily oil demand could be eliminated by 2026.

JPMorgan said commodities appear to have started a new supercycle of years-long gains, as oil holds above $50 and metal prices are at all-time highs. Commodity prices may jump as an “unintended consequence” of the fight against climate change, which threatens to constrain oil supplies while boosting demand for metals needed to build renewable energy infrastructure, batteries and electric vehicles, the bank said.

President Joe Biden unveiled his $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal, allotting $115 billion for roads and bridges and $16 billion to put laid-off oilfield laborers to work plugging abandoned wells and mines across the nation. Additionally, investments in EVs and renewable power have been given importance. The infrastructure program should help the natural resources sector attain greater sector leadership within the S&P 500.

The S&P Global Natural Resources Index includes 90 of the largest publicly traded companies in natural resources and commodities businesses that meet specific investability requirements, offering investors diversified, liquid and investable equity exposure across 3 primary commodity-related sectors: Agribusiness, Energy, and Metals & Mining. The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies..

A basis point, or bp, is a common unit of measure for interest rates and other percentages in finance. One basis point is equal to 1/100th of 1%, or 0.01% (0.0001).

Fund portfolios are actively managed, and holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. Holdings in the Global Resources Fund as a percentage of net assets as of 3/31/2021: Talon Metals Corp. 4.35%, Exxon Mobil Corp. 0.00%, Chevron Corp. 0.00%, Salazar Resources Ltd. 1.02%.

Net Asset Value
as of 04/20/2021

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $6.49 -0.14 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $13.19 0.02 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $5.09 -0.01 China Region Fund USCOX $9.90 -0.07 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $6.23 -0.05 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $24.65 No Change Global Luxury Goods Fund USLUX $22.40 -0.30 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.25 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 No Change