A New ETF Plugs Into Electric Vehicle Demand
As the exchange traded funds (ETFs) industry evolves, more and more ETFs are focusing on exciting, high-growth market segments. That includes the newly minted KraneShares Electric Vehicles & Future Mobility ETF (KARS).
The KraneShares Electric Vehicles & Future Mobility ETF, which debuted in January, is the first ETF explicitly giving investors access to the booming electric vehicle market. KARS follows the Solactive Electric Vehicles and Future Mobility Index. That benchmark provides exposure to companies producing electric vehicles as well components and parts markers.
“The Index includes issuers engaged in the electric vehicle production, autonomous driving, shared mobility, lithium and/or copper production, lithium-ion/lead acid batteries, hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing and/or electric infrastructure businesses,” according to KraneShares.
An often overlooked element in the success of new ETFs is the timing of the concepts being offered by those rookie funds. Data confirm that KARS fits the bill as well-timed ETF. Worldwide registrations of new electric vehicles jumped to 750,000 in 2016, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). IEA data also indicate global electric car stock topped 2 million in 2016, doubling from 1 million in 2015.
Another element crucial to the success and viability of new ETFs is whether or not the underlying concept offers investors access to long-lasting and potentially widespread themes. Data indicate KARS does just that.
“The EV revolution is going to hit the car market even harder and faster than BNEF predicted a year ago,” said Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). “EVs are on track to accelerate to 54% of new car sales by 2040. Tumbling battery prices mean that EVs will have lower lifetime costs, and will be cheaper to buy, than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars in most countries by 2025-29.”
China, of Course
KARS is a global ETF with exposure to about 15 countries, but the U.S. and China combine for over 63% of the fund's geographic weight, which is not surprising given the leadership of the world's two largest economies in the electric vehicle arena.
China's increasingly dominant footprint in the global electric vehicle market is not surprising when considering that the country is home to some of the world's most polluted cities and that Beijing is taking steps to ameliorate that problem. Of note to investors is that Chinese policymakers are actively seeking ways to make electric vehicle investment more attractive.
“On the supply side, China’s government has made it a priority to create favorable conditions for EV stakeholders, including investors,” said McKinsey & Company. “The country’s components suppliers offered a boost, as well; for example, China’s lithium-ion battery-cell players now account for about 25 percent of global supply. As for demand, China’s high marks are evidenced not only by the number of vehicles sold but also by the variety of choices available. Approximately 25 new EV models were introduced to the Chinese market in 2016. All told, a Chinese consumer can now choose from around 75 EV models—more than in any other country we’ve measured.”
Some recent data points out of China bolster the case for KARS. Last year, 777,000 plug-in and hybrid vehicles were sold in China. The distribution of that figure is also compelling as nearly 200,000 of those sales were commercial vehicles.
Speaking of KARS being at the right place at the right time, China is extending incentives tied to the purchases of new electric vehicles through 2020, a move that will almost certainly boost demand.
This Is the Best We Can Get With a Booming Job Market? Something Just Isn’t Right
While big job gains are making all the headlines, we see credit card delinquencies at a level last seen in the depths of the Financial Crisis and retail sales contracting over the past three months. This is the best we can get with a booming job market? Something here just isn’t adding up.
The week started off strong out of the gate on Monday in the wake of Friday’s post-payroll rally, but the momentum quickly faded, leaving the S&P 500 down four consecutive days as of Thursday’s close. If it closes in the red again Friday, it will be the longest losing streak in over 16 months going back October 31st, 2016. We dug into the details of the recent data and in this week’s edition, we point out some things that are just not adding up.
Wednesday the Industrials sector fell below its 50-day moving average with Boeing (BA) leading the decline as the weakest performer in the Dow, also falling below its 50-day moving average. In the Materials sector Century Aluminum (CENX) fell below its 50-day moving average to lead metals lower. DowDupont (DWDP) also failed to rise above its 50-day moving average. Thursday the Dow Transports sector followed Industrials, falling below its 50-day moving average and finding resistance at its late February peak.
The strongest performing S&P 500 sector over the past five days has been Utilities, followed by Real Estate – not exactly typical bull market leaders. After having experienced one of the strongest starts to a year, the S&P 500 is up less than 3% from December’s close and ended Thursday below its 50-day moving average. Technology has been the only sector to reach a new record high, but its technical indicators are starting to weaken, so this one looks to be over-extended. By Thursday’s open the percent of stocks in the S&P 500 trading above their 50-day moving average was down to 43% with over 22% of stocks in oversold territory and 21% in overbought.
US 10-year Treasury yield broke above its 100-month moving average in November of last year for the first time since July 2007 and hasn’t looked back. That being said, while the yield for the 10-year recently peaked on February 21st at just shy of 3% and has fallen roughly 12 basis points since then, the S&P 500 hasn’t been able to make much progress.
Meanwhile, no one seems to be talking about how we are seeing flattening in the yield curve.
February Retail Sales were weaker than expected, declining for the third consecutive month, the longest such streak in three years. Then again, the month-over-month change in average hourly earnings for all employees has been either flat or negative in 6 of the past 7 months and in the fourth quarter of 2017, consumers racked up credit card debt at the fastest pace in 30 years - bad for consumer spending, but rather confirming for our Cash-strapped Consumer investing theme. Most concerning is that credit card delinquencies at smaller banks have reach levels not seen since the depths of the Great Recession.
Homebuilder sentiment, after reaching the highest level since 1999 this past December, has now declined for 3 consecutive months, but even so, it still remains at nearly the highest levels since the financial crisis. Meanwhile, the NAHB Housing Market Index has fallen 17% from the January 22nd high and its most recent report found a significant downturn in traffic, perhaps due to rising mortgage rates as the 30-year fixed rate has reached the highest level in over 4 years. Perhaps the weakness has something to do with the aforementioned lack of wage growth as the ratio of the average new home price to per capita income has again reached the prior peak of 7.5x – people just can’t afford it.
We’ve been warning of the dangers of exuberant expectations for a while here at Tematica. The General Business Conditions Average for manufacturing from the Philadelphia & New York Fed this week illustrated just why we have. The two saw a small uptick in March after having been weakening in recent months. However, the outlook portion, which had been looking better in the past is now showing some weakness. For example, CapEx expectations 6-months out fell in March from the highest levels on record in February. Expectations around Shipments also dropped, having been at the second-highest levels of the current expansion. After having reached extreme levels in November, New Order expectations also declined. When sentiment expectations reach new highs, tough to continue to rise significantly from there.
While Friday’s job report got the markets all excited, perhaps the reason that enthusiasm has cooled is folks are realizing that the 50k gain in retail jobs isn’t syncing up with the -4.4% SAAR decline in retail sales over the past three months. Then there is what we are hearing from the horses’ mouth. Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT) both issued weak guidance, as did Kroger (KR) who also suffered from shrinking margins. A tight and tightening job market is unlikely to help with that. Costco (COST) missed on EPS, as did Dollar Tree Stores (DLTR), who also missed on EPS and gave weaker guidance. Big Lots (BIG) saw a decline in same-store sales. At the other end of the spectrum, the 70k gain in construction is in conflict with rising mortgage rates, traffic and declining pending home sales, while the 31k gain in manufacturing has to face a dollar that is no longer declining, high costs on tariff-related goods and potentially some sort of trade war.
As I mentioned above, while real retail sales fell -4.4% SAAR over the past three months, Core Consumer Prices rose 3.1% SAAR and Wednesday’s Producer Price Index (PPI) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also showed rising inflation pressures. Core PPI (yoy) has reached its highest levels since 2011 with the annualized 3-month trend having gone from 1.5% last summer, to 2.7% at the end of 2017 to 3.4% based on the latest data.
Import prices for February rose 0.4%, taking the year-over-year trend up to 3.5% from 3.4%. Recall that last summer this was around 1%. Ex-fuel the pace rose to 2.1% from 1.8% previously and 0.8% over the summer.
The bottom line this week is that we are no longer in the easy peasy 2017 world of hyper-low volatility and relentlessly rising indices with a VIX that has found a new normal more than 50% above last year’s average. The wind up is the major market indices haven’t been able to commit to a sustained direction. The hope and promises of 2017 have been priced in, leaving us with a, “So now what?” which is reflected in the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow forecast falling from 5.4% on February 1st to a measly 1.8% on March 16th – talk about a serious fade.
What has us really concerned is that at a time when big job gains are making all the headlines we see credit card delinquencies at the level last seen in the depths of the Financial Crisis and retail sales contracting at a 4.4% annual rate over the past three months. This is the best we can get with a booming job market? Something here just isn’t right
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