Since coming to market, the Market Vectors Oil Refiners ETF (NYSEArca: CRAK), the first dedicated exchange traded fund play on refiners equities, is up 2.5%. That may not sound like a jaw-dropping performance, but CRAK has been downright stellar compared to other equity-based energy ETFs in recent months.
The oil refinery business benefits from lower crude oil prices, or lower input costs. Meanwhile, the price of finished products such as gasoline, diesel and fuel oil can affect a refinery’s profitability. Consequently, the difference between the cost of crude oil and the price of the products, or so-called crack spread, is a common indicator of the potential profits.
A significant part of oil’s problems this year is attributable to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) refusing to cut production in an effort to stem slumping prices. However, OPEC still has plenty of skin in the game, hence the cartel’s bullish prediction on crude prices.
OPEC has kept up production to pressure high-cost rivals, such as the developing U.S. shale oil producers. The International Energy Agency expects it will take several years before OPEC can effectively price out high-cost producers. [Oil ETFs Face World-Record Supply Glut]
Even with the headwinds created by OPEC and the rising dollar, some of CRAK’s marquee holdings are poised to rise in 2016, including Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) and Tesoro Petroleum (NYSE: TSO).