Chart of the Week: Coffee Cuing Up an Up Trend?

Move over Natural Gas… the latest commodity that is perking up (pun intended) is everyone’s favorite morning nectar, Coffee.  The $7 Billion dollar market is up almost 30% YTD, and was up 8 consecutive days before some profit taking today {past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results}.

Coffee one(Disclaimer: Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results)
Chart Courtesy: Finviz

First in understanding the Coffee market, there are two important distinctions… Robusta Coffee (the dominant market traded at the NYSE Euronext) and Arabica Coffee (traded at ICE). [the finviz chart above shows the Robusta futures]. But it’s not just where they are traded, there’s also a difference of where they’re grown. Robusta Coffee is grown at low altitudes (mainly Asia), while Arabica typically comes from South American countries and is grown at higher altitudes (Colombia, Brazil), laid out nicely in this handy infographic:

Coffee infographicInfographic Courtesy: The Pilot’s Blog

And for you coffee snobs out there, there’s a difference between the taste, at least according to The Pilot’s Blog:

“Robusta has a neutral to harsh taste range and is often likened to having an “oatmeal-like” taste. When unroasted, the smell of Robusta beans is described as raw-peanutty.

Arabicas, on the other hand, have a very wide taste range (depending on its varietal). The range differs from sweet-soft to sharp-tangy. When unroasted, Arabica beans smell like blueberries. Their roasted smell is described as perfumey with notes of fruit and sugar tones.”

Both contracts are up big this year, but for different reasons. Bloomberg states that in Vietnam (the leading Robusta producer), farmers have stopped trading to celebrate their new year. Arabica coffee is a different story. Central and South America have been struggling with a crop disease called, “leaf rust,” while Brazil deals with a drought that is hurting supply, via the Wall Street Journal.

Wall Street Journal CoffeeGraphic Courtesy: The Wall Street Journal

“It was the hottest January on record for parts of southern and southeastern Brazil, Somar Meteorologia in São Paulo said. Rain isn’t likely to fall in Minas Gerais state, which produced about 72% of Brazil’s coffee last year, until mid-February, said Patricia Vieira, a meteorological technician at Somar Meteorologia. The arabica-coffee harvest will begin in late April or early May.

Conab, the government crop agency, expects this year’s coffee crop to range between 46.5 million and 50.2 million bags, based on estimates released in early January. Others have given different estimates, and some analysts say it is too soon to known by how much the lack of rain will reduce the size of the crop.

Some forecasters had predicted Brazil’s harvest would be as high as 60 million bags. Bags are the standard measure of volume and on average weigh about 60 kilograms each. One bag of coffee yields 7,500 shots of espresso. “This changes the bag-count idea,” said Sterling Smith, a futures specialist at Citigroup in Chicago. “If the dryness persists, the 60 [million-bag estimate] is obviously off the table.”

Whatever the reason, this move higher might be little more than a dead cat bounce with coffee coming off a huge down trend over the past year, especially if prices are rising only because of the Vietnamese New Year (does anyone really believe that??). A few CTAs we monitor (Covenant Aggressive, Brandywine Symphony, and Sona Trading)  have nibbled at this trade, however, hoping all that space to the upside becomes a nice ‘robust’ (pun intended) up trend.

Big Picture Coffee

(Disclaimer: Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results)
Chart Courtesy: Finviz

P.S. – If you’re looking to play an uptrend in Coffee like StockTwits founder Howard Lindzon, beware the ETF cleverly named JO. These futures tracking ETFs have to pay what’s called a roll yield, which has caused them to severely underperform the markets they are designed to follow.

Speak Your Mind