Alternative Investments

Invest in Copper Ahead of the Looming Shortage

Copper plays a major role in our lives.

Without copper wires, most of our homes would be dark at night. Those wires carry electricity to our many household lights and appliances.

But it goes even further than that. Without copper, electric utilities wouldn’t even be able to generate power.

As a result of its widespread use, copper has become an important economic indicator. When the economy is doing well, the demand for and price of copper go up.

And when times are tough, copper demand and prices go down.

Put simply, advancing humanity means increasing our use of copper. So it stands to reason that any smart investor should add copper to their portfolio.

I’ll give you some suggestions in a moment.

But first, let’s take a closer look at the essential element.

Copper-Intensive Industries

Copper is an element with many useful properties. Most of us already know that it’s a very good conductor of heat and electricity. It’s also extremely good at resisting corrosion.

The power industry uses millions of pounds of it every year. It can be found in most electric motors, which are essential to today’s manufacturing processes and industrial machinery.

Additionally, important sectors, such as clean transportation and clean energy, are hugely copper-intensive.

For instance, today’s internal combustion engine cars have anywhere from 18 to 49 pounds of copper. But electric vehicles contain up to 183 pounds of it.

And wind turbines are also big users of copper. Wind farms can be found all over the Midwest, and they will soon be expanding to the Atlantic Ocean. Over the next eight years, new wind capacity is expected to consume more than 5.5 million tons of copper.

A Looming Shortage

Within the next few years, we could see a massive shortage of this critical metal. Copper manufacturers are dragging their feet on increasing mining and manufacturing capacity.

The industry has been reluctant to fork out the $100 billion needed to increase production and open new mines. As a result, the world could be looking at an annual supply deficit of 4.7 million metric tons in 10 years or less.

And now clean power and the electrification of transportation are driving copper demand even higher. The deficit could reach 10 million metric tons annually if no more mines are opened.

Back on May 17, 2021, speculators drove copper prices to $10,500 per metric ton.

Copper Chart

As a result, China – which uses more than half of the world’s copper produced every year – started dumping its copper inventory on the market to lower prices.

It was an effective strategy. And as of June 18, copper prices had dropped to $9,427 per metric ton.

But China’s strategy won’t work for much longer. Overall demand for copper just continues to increase.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) predicts copper demand will increase by nearly 600% by 2030 as the world transitions to a green existence. It predicts we could see a copper supply gap grow to 8.2 million metric tons by the same year.

Opportunities in the Sector

It’s clear that our need for copper is insatiable. And that’s good news for investors who are long-term thinkers and are investing in copper now.

One of the simplest ways to invest in copper is via one or both of the exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track its price. Though, surprisingly, these funds don’t invest in copper mining companies.

The first is the iPath Series B Bloomberg Copper Subindex Total Return ETN (NYSE: JJC).

This is actually an exchange-traded note (ETN). An ETN is an unsecured debt instrument. It’s structured to track an underlying securities index and trade like a stock.

This ETN gives exposure to the Bloomberg Copper Subindex Total Return and invests exclusively in copper futures contracts. It’s had a solid one-year performance of 52.8%, though it doesn’t pay an annual dividend.

The second is the United States Copper Index Fund (NYSE: CPER).

This ETF has a different structure than the Bloomberg ETN. It’s a commodity pool, which is a private investment structure. It combines investor contributions, which are used to trade commodity futures contracts.

The combined contributions act together as a single entity. This increases trading leverage and helps to maximize profits.

Like the ETN, this ETF gives exposure to copper. And it invests only in copper futures. Its one-year performance of 54.1% is close to that of the ETN. (That doesn’t surprise me, since both have similar investing strategies.)

Whichever way you choose to invest in copper, now is the time to do so while prices are low. They’re only going to go up from here.

Good investing,

Dave

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