By David Schassler, Portfolio Manager and Head of Portfolio and Quantitative Investment Solutions, VanEck Global
The VanEck Vectors® Real Asset Allocation ETF (RAAX®) uses a data-driven, rules-based process that leverages over 50 indicators (technical, macroeconomic and fundamental, commodity price, and sentiment) to allocate across 12 individual real asset segments in five broad real asset sectors. These objective indicators identify the segments with positive expected returns. Then, using correlation and volatility, an optimization process determines the weight to these segments with the goal of creating a portfolio with maximum diversification while reducing risk. The expanded PDF version of this commentary can be downloaded here.
The VanEck Vectors Real Asset Allocation ETF (RAAX) returned +0.66% versus +2.28% for the Bloomberg Commodity Index and +1.63% for its custom blended benchmark.
In July, RAAX pivoted from being highly defensive, with a position of U.S. Treasury bills and gold bullion, to a diversified portfolio of real asset investments. While now fully invested, cautiously optimistic best describes the current allocations. RAAX has a 28% allocation to diversified commodities, a 33% allocation to gold, 25% of that in bullion and 8% allocation in gold equities, a 24% allocation to natural resource equities and small allocations to REITs, MLPs and global infrastructure.
The reason that RAAX transitioned away from its most defensive posture is because market price actions are no longer consistent with supply and demand dynamics of most real assets. More specifically, the price trend composite, which tracks price trends on a basket of real asset investments, is no longer bearish due to the rapid price recovery over the past few months. This price action, including lower volatility, is at odds with our bearish macroeconomic composite, which measures supply and demand activity in real assets. Without market prices confirming our non-price based indicators, RAAX will no longer maintain its most defensive posture.
|Average Annual Total Returns (%) as of June 30, 2020|
|1 Mo†||YTD†||1 Year||Life|
|RAAX (Share Price)||1.03||-24.07||-21.75||-9.62|
|Bloomberg Commodity Index*||2.28||-19.40||-17.38||-11.17|
|Blended Real Asset Index*||1.63||-18.57||-15.31||-5.93|
|Average Annual Total Returns (%) as of March 31, 2020|
|1 Mo†||YTD†||1 Year||Life|
|RAAX (Share Price)||-17.54||-25.58||-22.37||-11.67|
|Bloomberg Commodity Index*||-12.81||-23.29||-22.31||-14.66|
|Blended Real Asset Index*||-17.20||-27.74||-24.01||-12.10|
The table presents past performance which is no guarantee of future results and which may be lower or higher than current performance. Returns reflect temporary contractual fee waivers and/or expense reimbursements. Had the ETF incurred all expenses and fees, investment returns would have been reduced. Investment returns and ETF share values will fluctuate so that investors’ shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost.
†Returns less than a year are not annualized.
Expenses: Gross 1.13%; Net 0.75%. Expenses are capped contractually at 0.55% through February 1, 2021. Expenses are based on estimated amounts for the current fiscal year. Cap exclude certain expenses, such as interest, acquired fund fees and expenses, and trading expenses.
A Deeper Dive
Below is the overall real asset composite. A score of 0 represents the lowest risk level and a score of 100 represents the highest risk level. A score of 60 or higher will result in our most defensive posture. The current score of 28, below 40, indicates an unstable risk regime for real assets.
Overall Risk Score
The risk score can be decomposed into key factors that drive real asset prices. These include price trends, economic activity, realized volatility and investor sentiment.
In aggregate, the price trends for real assets are bullish. This is an indication of near-term stability in real asset prices.
Price Trend Risk Score
The economic composite remains bearish as the supply and demand dynamics continue to be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Economic Risk Score
Volatility continues to stay low, which is yet another signal that prices are likely to remain stable in the near-term.
Price Volatility Risk Score
Investor sentiment is no longer at an extreme. This too indicates that prices are not overly vulnerable to a near-term correction.
Investor Sentiment Risk Score
While now fully invested, RAAX is clearly cautious about the current environment given its mix of assets. RAAX continues to hold lots of gold and diversified commodities which, right now, are amongst the lowest risk assets in the portfolio. Gold has been a fantastic performer this year, up around 18%, and handily outperforming other real assets and major asset classes.
Historically, REITs were at the top of the list of attractive real asset investments due to their defensive characteristics and strong returns. Not this time. COVID-19 is reducing the need for commercial space and the ability of tenants, including residential tenants, to pay rent. RAAX is seeking to minimize these risks by holding small allocations to REITs.
As always, RAAX will continue to monitor the current environment and adjust its allocations to balance the risk and rewards of real asset investing.
Real Asset Sector Allocations Since Inception
Real Asset Class Allocations
|Global Metals & Mining Equities||3.5%||0.0%||3.5%||Increase|
|Unconventional Oil & Gas Equities||3.5%||0.0%||3.5%||Increase|
|Oil Services Equities||3.4%||0.0%||3.4%||Increase|
|Low Carbon Energy Equities||3.4%||0.0%||3.4%||Increase|
Please note that the information herein represents the opinion of the author, but not necessarily those of VanEck, and these opinions may change at any time and from time to time. Non-VanEck proprietary information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. Not intended to be a forecast of future events, a guarantee of future results or investment advice. Historical performance is not indicative of future results. Current data may differ from data quoted. Any graphs shown herein are for illustrative purposes only. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission of VanEck.
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*The Blended Real Assets Index consists of an equally weighted blend of the returns of Bloomberg Commodity Index, S&P Real Assets Equity Index, and VanEck® Natural Resources Index. Equal weightings are reset monthly. The S&P Real Assets Equity Index measures the performance of equity real return strategies that invest in listed global property, infrastructure, natural resources, and timber and forestry companies. The VanEck Natural Resources Index is a rules-based index intended to give investors a means of tracking the overall performance of a global universe of listed companies engaged in the production and distribution of commodities and commodity-related products and services. Sector weights are set annually based on estimates of global natural resources consumption, and stock weights within sectors are based on market capitalization, float-adjusted and modified to conform to various asset diversification requirements. The S&P 500® Index (S&P 500) consists of 500 widely held common stocks, covering four broad sectors (industrials, utilities, financial and transportation).
The S&P Real Assets Equity Index is a product of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and/or its affiliates and has been licensed for use by Van Eck Associates Corporation. Copyright © 2020 S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a division of S&P Global, Inc., and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Redistribution or reproduction in whole or in part are prohibited without written permission of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC. For more information on any of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC’s indices please visit www.spdji.com. S&P® is a registered trademark of S&P Global and Dow Jones® is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. Neither S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC, their affiliates nor their third party licensors make any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the ability of any index to accurately represent the asset class or market sector that it purports to represent and neither S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC, their affiliates nor their third party licensors shall have any liability for any errors, omissions, or interruptions of any index or the data included therein.
The Solactive MLP & Energy Infrastructure Index tracks the performance of MLPs and energy infrastructure corporations. The MVIS U.S. Listed Oil Services 25 Index is intended to track the overall performance of U.S.-listed companies involved in oil services to the upstream oil sector, which include oil equipment, oil services, or oil drilling. The Dow Jones Equity All REIT Index, designed to measure all publicly traded real estate investment trusts in the Dow Jones U.S. stock universe classified as equity REITs according to the S&P Dow Jones Indices REIT Industry Classification Hierarchy. The NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index is a modified market capitalization-weighted index composed of publicly traded companies involved primarily in the mining for gold. The Index is calculated and maintained by the New York Stock Exchange. The S&P® North American Natural Resources Sector Index: a modified capitalization-weighted index which includes companies involved in the following categories: extractive industries, energy companies, owners and operators of timber tracts, forestry services, producers of pulp and paper, and owners of plantations. The S&P® GSCI Total Return Index is a world production-weighted commodity index comprised of liquid, exchange-traded futures contracts and is often used as a benchmark for world commodity prices.
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