Six Ways to Profit from a Resolution in Egypt

02/04/2011 7:07 am EST

Focus: ETFS

By the Staff at

Egypt is a relatively small economy with a GDP of just about $200 billion. But the economic impact of the ongoing protests and uncertainty goes far beyond Egyptian borders, affecting broader financial markets as we’ve seen in recent days.“The turmoil in Egypt is reverberating around the world, battering stock markets, driving up oil prices, and raising questions about whether the rising cost of crude could slow the global economy,” writes Chip Cummins of The Wall Street Journal.

Below we highlight six ETFs that figure to be in focus until the situation is resolved, including funds that have both thrived and suffered from the recent chaos.

They also stand to gain quickly if the unrests ends relatively peacefully and soon so that the Egyptian economy, however small, can get back on track.

Market Vectors Egypt Index ETF (EGPT)

The Egyptian economy has been battered by the recent chaos, as evidenced by the steep declines in the US-listed ETF offering exposure to Egyptian companies. EGPT seeks to replicate the Market Vectors Egypt Index, a benchmark comprised of companies that are listed on an exchange in Egypt or generate at least 50% of their revenues in the country. Financials make up the biggest slice of EGPT from a sector perspective, with industrial materials also accounting for a major portion of portfolio assets.

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The Egyptian stock market has been closed in recent sessions amid the chaos, but that hasn’t stopped EGPT from plummeting. The fund lost almost 14% last week, drawing attention from bargain hunters looking to act out an old Warren Buffett mantra and “Be greedy when others are fearful.”

Guggenheim Shipping ETF (SEA)

The connection between the deteriorating situation in Egypt and this sector-specific ETF may seem unlikely, especially considering that Greek companies account for the largest allocation of SEA. But about 8% of global sea-borne trade passes through the Suez Canal, including close to 2% of global oil output. So far, it has been business as usual through the canal. But shippers are beginning to warn of additional delays and complications; the Internet blackout in Egypt, for example, has made loading and unloading more time-consuming processes.

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SEA replicates the Delta Global Shipping Index, a benchmark that includes companies that derive a significant portion of revenues from shipping operations. If Egypt shuts down the Suez Canal or shipping companies decide to pursue alternative routes, the shipping ETF could be in for a wild ride.

NEXT: More ETFs to Watch as the Conflict Unfolds


United States Oil Fund (USO)

Oil prices have spiked as a result of the protests in Egypt, the result of anxiety over more widespread instability in Egypt’s oil-producing neighbors and concerns over the possible shipping delays. According to the US Department of Energy, about a million barrels of crude and other refined products pass through the Suez Canal daily, with a pipeline taking another million barrels across Egypt each day. USO and other products in the oil and gas ETF category spiked recently on Egyptian uncertainty; an escalation of the conflict could send these funds higher still, while a peaceful resolution could cause the “instability premium” to evaporate.

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The instability could also have an impact on natural gas markets, as Egypt is a major exporter of that important resource. Once a largely local commodity, technological advancements have made long-distance transport of liquefied natural gas possible; much of the natural gas exported by Egypt is shipped to the US and Asian markets.

iPath Dow Jones-UBS Grains ETN (JJG)

Egypt is the world’s largest buyer of wheat, and recent developments have sent prices for the agricultural commodity sharply lower. Wheat prices fell by about 2% on Friday despite a statement from the government’s official wheat buyer that it had no plans to change orders.

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JJG is linked to an index that offers exposure to three futures contracts, including soybeans (about 38%), corn (about 38%), and wheat (24%). The fund has surged over the last year amid inflationary concerns and surging demand from developing economies.

iPath Dow Jones-UBS Cotton ETN (BAL)

Egypt is a major exporter of cotton; the term “Egyptian cotton” refers to extra long staple cotton that is grown in Egypt and is widely used in luxury brands. A prolonged period of instability could place upward pressure on cotton prices, through Egyptian supply is dwarfed by the US, China, and India.

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SPDR S&P Emerging Middle East & Africa ETF (GAF)

This ETF offers more broad-based exposure to the Middle East and Africa, a region that could obviously be impacted by the resolution to Egypt’s current crisis. Many international analysts fear that an escalation of tensions or violence in Cairo and other major Egyptian cities could destabilize the entire region, especially if Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel is threatened.

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GAF lost more than 5% of its value last Friday, though it clawed back some of those losses in Monday’s trading session. It will remain volatile until we have more clarity on the ultimate outcome of the issues in Egypt.

By the Staff at

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