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  • Writer's pictureJay Coulter

GUNR - FlexShares Morningstar® Global Upstream Natural Resources Index Fund

From the GUNR website:

Moving Upstream to Potentially Capture Price and Growth Impacts in Natural Resources
We believe that demand for natural resources is expected to increase for an extended period due to growing populations and rising per-capita income in global markets.
Our opinion is that some natural resources strategies can lead to over concentration in industries such as energy and metals, and that investors should consider expanding into three sectors that may be overlooked: agriculture, timber and water.
Our research suggests that upstream natural resources companies can be less complex because their costs lie mainly in resource extraction, with minimal processing and delivery to downstream companies. Upstream companies also may benefit from raw material price increases, while downstream companies, which must pay those higher prices for their input materials, may experience negative impacts.

GUNR Website:

Pros and Cons of investing in Upstream Companies in the Commodities Space


The commodities market is a dynamic and ever-evolving space, offering a wide array of investment opportunities for investors. One such opportunity lies in the upstream segment of the industry, where companies are primarily involved in the exploration, extraction, and production of raw materials. In this blog post, we will delve into the workings of upstream companies in the commodities sector and discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with investing in them.

Upstream Companies in the Commodities Space

Upstream companies in the commodities space are those engaged in the initial stages of the production process, which includes the discovery, extraction, and initial processing of raw materials such as oil, natural gas, metals, and agricultural products. These companies are the backbone of the commodities industry, as they provide the essential resources required for downstream activities such as refining, processing, and distribution.

Some well-known upstream companies in the commodities space include:

  1. Oil and Gas: ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Royal Dutch Shell are examples of major oil and gas exploration and production companies.

  2. Mining: Companies like BHP Group, Rio Tinto, and Freeport-McMoRan are involved in the extraction and processing of metals and minerals, including copper, iron ore, and gold.

  3. Agriculture: Companies such as Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge Limited, and Syngenta AG focus on the production and processing of agricultural commodities like grains, oilseeds, and sugar.

Potential Benefits of Investing in Upstream Companies

  1. Exposure to commodity price appreciation: Investing in upstream companies offers investors a way to capitalize on potential price increases in the underlying commodities. As these companies are directly involved in the production of raw materials, their revenues and profits are closely linked to the market prices of the commodities they produce.

  2. Diversification: Upstream companies in the commodities sector can serve as a means to diversify an investment portfolio. Given that commodity prices often move in different directions than other asset classes like stocks and bonds, investing in upstream companies can help reduce overall portfolio risk.

  3. Inflation hedge: Commodities are typically viewed as a hedge against inflation since their prices tend to rise when the overall cost of living increases. By investing in upstream companies, investors can potentially protect their portfolios from the negative effects of rising inflation.

Potential Risks of Investing in Upstream Companies

  1. Commodity price volatility: Since upstream companies' revenues are closely tied to commodity prices, they are exposed to significant price fluctuations. These price swings can directly impact the financial performance of upstream companies, posing risks to investors.

  2. Regulatory and environmental concerns: Upstream companies in the commodities space often face strict regulations and environmental challenges. Changes in regulations or increased scrutiny can lead to higher operating costs or even project cancellations, which could negatively impact the value of an investment.

  3. Geopolitical risks: Many upstream companies operate in politically unstable regions or countries with poor infrastructure, which can expose them to a host of risks such as resource nationalism, expropriation, and disruptions in production.

Investing in upstream companies in the commodities space can offer potential benefits such as exposure to commodity price appreciation, portfolio diversification, and an inflation hedge. However, investors should also be aware of the inherent risks, including commodity price volatility, regulatory and environmental concerns, and geopolitical risks. A well-researched and balanced approach to investing in upstream companies can help investors navigate the complexities of the commodities sector and capitalize on the opportunities it presents.


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