by Lawrence Meyers | April 4, 2012 11:50 am
As gasoline prices soar to new heights, it’s nice to know there’s a way to offset the price at the pump with smart investments in the energy sector.
The most direct way to hedge against your own expenditures at the gas station is to invest directly in gasoline, which you can do courtesy of United States Gasoline Fund (NYSE:UGA). UGA unit net asset value reflects percentage changes in the price of gasoline, as measured by the changes in the price of the futures contract on unleaded gasoline traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
There are two things to be aware of: First, returns are dependent on contango and backwardation. Although the average price of gas in the U.S. from exactly one year ago is up only 7%, UGA is up 13%. Gasoline prices are up just about 20% since Christmas, while UGA is up almost 30%. Gas dropped 18% from peak to trough in 2011, while UGA dropped the same amount.
Also, be aware that as a limited partnership, you will receive a K-1 form that may deliver a tax surprise.
I see gasoline going higher, by the way. We aren’t even at summer driving season and there are tensions with Iran.
You could also de-couple slightly from gasoline by going with iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil TR Index ETN (NYSE:OIL). This investment is linked to the performance of the Goldman Sachs Crude Oil Return index, itself derived from West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil futures, and reflects the returns on an unleveraged investment in the futures contacts comprising the index, plus the Treasury bill rate of interest.
Oil is at a technical pivot point. If it breaks out here, it could go much higher. If it fails technically, then all bets are off.
Maybe you like the idea of hedging your gas outlays with energy investments but are nervous about betting the wrong way on gasoline or oil futures. In that case, I’d go with energy infrastructure plays. Oil is going to be fueling our world for some time to come despite nonsense about “peak oil,” so a diversified investment in energy companies that service the sector will move higher over the long term.
In that case, look at Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSE:OIH). Here you get to hold some of the big names in the sector, including Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV), Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) and Transocean (NYSE:RIG).
You don’t have to passively accept rising gas prices. Buy into the energy sector and while your tank is filling, spend your investment profits on that undercooked burrito in the convenience store.
As of this writing, Lawrence Meyers did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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