How to Build an Energy Bull ETF Portfolio

Establishing exposure to the energy sector is by no means for the faint of heart. Positions in this corner of the commodity universe are ripe with risk and are often times associated with high volatility. But for those who can stomach the risk, allocations to energy can certainly pay off as demand continues to grow across developed and emerging markets alike. Investments in this sector can also be used as tactical tool to hedge against inflation, since increases in the price of commodities like oil and gas prices tend to ripple across the economy. For those who wish to establish a tactical tilt towards the energy sector,  we outline an all ETF portfolio that is designed to give well rounded exposure to multiple segments of the energy market [for more energy allocation ideas subscribe to our free newsletter].

Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEARCA:VWO)

Portfolio Snapshot

First things first, here are the ETFs that we have chosen for this particular portfolio.

How to Build an Energy Bull ETF Portfolio

As can be seen above, there is really only one fund that is unrelated to the commodity industry. And although GSP is the only fund that invests directly in commodities, the other equity ETFs offer exposure to both domestic and international energy producers.

Holdings Overview

Below is a brief overview of each component of this portfolio.

Vanguard Total World Stock Idx Fd (NYSEARCA:VT): This ETF tracks the FTSE All-World Index, a benchmark comprised of approximately 2,900 stocks from 47 different countries, including both developed and emerging markets.

Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLE): This fund is designed to invest in companies from the oil, gas & consumable fuels, and energy equipment & services industries.

iShares Dow Jones US Oil & Gas Exp. (NYSEARCA:IEO): This ETF tracks an index that seeks to capture the performance of the oil exploration and production sub-sector of the U.S. equity market [see also Bargain Shopping In Oil and Gas Stocks].

Market Vectors-Coal (NYSEARCA:KOL): This ETF tracks the Stowe Coal Index, offering investors exposure to publicly traded companies worldwide that derive greater than 50% of their revenues from the coal industry.

SPDR S&P Interntil Ergy Sect (NYSEARCA:IPW): This ETF seeks to offer investors exposure to the non-U.S. energy sub-industry of developed countries included in the S&P Broad Market Index.

EG Shares DJ Emerging Markets Energy (NYSEARCA:OGEM): This fund tracks the Dow Jones Emerging Markets Oil and Gas Titans Index, which is designed to track 30 of the largest emerging market companies in the Oil & Gas industry.

First Trust ISE Revere Natural Gas (NYSEARCA:FCG): This ETF tracks an equal-weighted index that is comprised of exchange-listed companies, which derive a significant portion of their revenues from the exploration and production of natural gas.

GSP: This ETN is linked to a broad-based commodity index, which primarily invests in energy resources as well as precious metals and livestock.

UBS AG ETN (NYSEARCA:MLPI):This ETN tracks a benchmark that is designed to offer investors exposure to the infrastructure component of the Master Limited Partnership asset class [see also Five Commodity MLPs With Sky High Yields].

Historical Return Analysis

The adjacent table provides historical results for each component of this portfolio, as well as backtested results (as available) for the entire portfolio during 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. The table also shows how this portfolio performed relative to a popular stock market benchmark SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEARCA:SPY) and bond benchmark iShares Barclays Aggregate Bond Fund (NYSEARCA:AGG).

It is important to note that many of the ETFs used in this portfolio have relatively short operating histories, limiting the extent of valuable historical return analysis [see also 25 Ways To Invest In Crude Oil].

Many equity and commodity ETFs in this portfolio suffered significant losses in 2008, as the global recession hammered equity and energy prices around the world. It is worth noting, however, the remarkable performance of Market Vectors-Coal ETF (NYSEARCA:KOL), which gained over 100% in 2009. As the energy industry continues to recover, many of these funds have been able to make up previous losses, while some have greatly outperformed the broad stock market, as represented by SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEARCA:SPY).

Portfolio Expenses

This portfolio is designed for long-term use consistent with a “buy, hold, and rebalance” strategy. As such, minimization of expenses is necessary to avoid return erosion resulting from compounding costs. To this end, we constructed a portfolio with a weighted-average expense ratio of 55 basis points, which is significantly lower than fees charged by actively-managed mutual funds, which can exceed 1.0%. The impact of this reduced cost structure over a 30-year time horizon is significant [see also The Ten Commandments of Commodity Investing]:

While this can certainly be used as an all encompassing group of holdings, those who wish to adopt an investment strategy that is tilted towards the energy sector can also use this model portfolio as a smaller part of their overall group of holdings.

This article was originally written by Daniela Pylypczak, and posted on CommodityHQ.

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