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  • Guided Allocation

    Risk in Real Assets Rise

    David Schassler, Portfolio Manager
    June 20, 2019

    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 -3.37% in May. By comparison, its blended benchmark returned -4.28% and the Bloomberg Commodity Index returned -3.36%. RAAX was allocated heavily to gold which returned 1.77% in May, global infrastructure which returned -1.71%, and REITs which returned 0.14%. The oil sector had a difficult month as the price of crude oil fell 16.21%, and dragged down oil services equites by 21.54% and unconventional oil & gas equities by 15.13%.

    RAAX remains fully invested in June. Its largest allocations are to gold, global infrastructure, REITs and diversified commodities. RAAX is bearish on agriculture, coal, base metals and steel equities. These assets are predominantly bearish based on falling asset prices.

    Average Annual Total Returns (%) as of May 31, 2019
      1 Mo YTD 1 Year Life
    RAAX (NAV) -3.37 -2.70 -7.28 -3.22
    RAAX (Share Price) -3.36 -2.74 -6.99 -3.15
    Blended Real Asset Index*0.15 -4.28 5.90 -5.75 -2.08

    Average Annual Total Returns (%) as of March 31, 2019
      1 Mo YTD 1 Year Life
    RAAX (NAV) 1.04 1.73 - 0.72
    RAAX (Share Price) 1.04 1.69 - 0.80
    Blended Real Asset Index* 0.76 10.46 - 1.81

    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. ETF returns assume that distributions have been reinvested in the Fund at “Net Asset Value” (NAV). NAV is determined at the close of each business day, and represents the dollar value of one share of the fund; it is calculated by taking the total assets of the fund, subtracting total liabilities, and dividing by the total number of shares outstanding. The NAV is not necessarily the same as the ETF’s intraday trading value. VanEck Vectors ETF investors should not expect to buy or sell shares at NAV.

    Returns less than a year are not annualized.

    Expenses: Gross 1.04%; Net 0.64%. Expenses are capped contractually at 0.55% through February 1, 2020. 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

    Risk in real assets is measured across macroeconomic/fundamental, technical, commodity price and sentiment indicators. These risk levels are then scored from 0 to 100. Simply, a score below 50 is bullish and a score of 50 or higher is bearish. Below is our real asset economic composite. It includes key supply and demand factors that drive real asset prices. This indicator turned bearish at the end of May, indicating potential headwinds for real asset prices.

    Economic Risk Score
    Economic Risk Score

    The following indicator is a momentum composite across real assets. While, in aggregate, price trends were bullish at the end of May, the direction warns that trouble may be ahead.

    Price Trend Risk Score
    Price Trend Risk Score

    Volatility is a factor that we watch closely. Typically, periods of extreme volatility result in falling prices. The composite below demonstrates that volatility is not extreme, which is a bullish sign.

    Volatility Risk Score
    Volatility Risk Score

    Extreme investor sentiment is a tool used to identify near-term overbought market conditions. As you can see below, investor sentiment is not overbought. Yet another bullish sign for real asset investors.

    Investor Sentiment Risk Score
    Investor Sentiment Risk Score

    Lastly, commodity prices are an important risk metric because they often directly or indirectly impact real asset prices. This chart shows that, generally, commodity prices have been holding up over the medium-term.

    Commodity Risk Score
    Commodity Risk Score

    To conclude, many real assets had a very challenging month in May. RAAX is picking up on the increased risk regime. While it remains fully invested in June, RAAX has transitioned into historically stable assets (such as gold and global infrastructure) and away from higher risk assets (e.g., natural resource equities). RAAX will remain adaptive to the risks in the market. Near-term, a significant worsening in the current market conditions would likely result in a much more defensive posture for RAAX.

    June Positioning: Real Asset Sector and Asset Class Weights
    June Positioning: Real Asset Sector and Asset Class Weights

    Monthly Asset Class Changes

    Real Asset Segment Jun-19 May-19 Change from Previous Month
    Diversified Commodities 18% 6% 12% Increase
    REITs 20% 19% 1% Increase
    MLPs 6% 5% 1% Increase
    Gold Equities 6% 5% 1% Increase
    Gold Bullion 21% 20% 1% Increase
    Oil Service Equities 0% 0% 0% No Change
    Cash 0% 0% 0% No Change
    Coal Equities 0% 0% 0% No Change
    Global Infrastructure 20% 21% -1% Decrease
    Unconventional Oil & Gas Equities 4% 5% -1% Decrease
    Steel Equities 0% 5% -5% Decrease
    Global Metals & Mining Equities 0% 5% -5% Decrease
    Agribusiness Equities 0% 5% -5% Decrease


    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 © 2019 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 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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    An investment in the Fund may be subject to risks which include, among others, in fund of funds risk which may subject the Fund to investing in commodities, gold, natural resources companies, MLPs, real estate sector, infrastructure, equities securities, small- and medium-capitalization companies, foreign securities, emerging market issuers, foreign currency, credit, high yield securities, interest rate, call and concentration risks, all of which may adversely affect the Fund. The Fund may also be subject to affiliated fund, U.S. Treasury Bills, subsidiary investment, commodity regulatory (with respect to investments in the Subsidiary), tax (with respect to investments in the Subsidiary), liquidity, gap, cash transactions, high portfolio turnover, model and data, management, operational, authorized participant concentration, no guarantee of active trading market, trading issues, market, fund shares trading, premium/discount and liquidity of fund shares, non-diversified and ETPs risks. Foreign investments are subject to risks, which include changes in economic and political conditions, foreign currency fluctuations, changes in foreign regulations, and changes in currency exchange rates which may negatively impact the Fund’s returns. Small- and medium-capitalization companies may be subject to elevated risks.

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