If you've been paying attention to the news lately, you've likely heard a lot about a few of the Supreme Court's landmark decisions. Well, I'm not going to address same-sex marriage or civil rights. Instead, I'm going to discuss a little-reported decision by the Court that flew under the radar of the mainstream media. And this overlooked legal decision has the potential to put money in your pocket.
To be clear, when I say the Supreme Court reached a "decision," I mean that the Supremes refused to review a decision made by a lower court - thus allowing a lower court ruling to stand. The case involved the Environmental Protection Agency ((EPA_) and a suit brought by a host of industry trade associations, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers.
Each took issue with a change the EPA made to its rules back in 2010, allowing higher ethanol content in gasoline. The average gallon of gasoline currently contains roughly 10% ethanol, or E10. The new EPA rules would allow for the manufacture and sale of E15 - fuel that's 15% ethanol by volume. The industry challengers had different claims against the EPA.
The automaker and petroleum industry claimed these new, higher-ethanol fuels would be damaging to cars and trucks, especially any vehicle made before 2001. The grocery retailers, along with several restaurant chains, claimed the higher ethanol production would drive up food prices at both the wholesale and retail levels. However, the Federal appeals court ruled the plaintiffs couldn't prove that their memberships would be significantly harmed by the rule change. And by refusing to hear the case, the Supreme Court essentially agreed, paving the way for higher ethanol content in fuel.
It also paved a way for investors to use this change in energy policy to make money. Here's how …
Seeds of Growth
Though the decision isn't likely to have an impact on this year's corn production, the truth is that the higher ethanol content could push corn prices higher. And though the bump in prices likely won't happen until next year's crop, now could be a good time to position your portfolio for future gains.
The first logical place to look would be the exchange-traded fund, Teucrium Corn Fund (CORN). Weighted to reflect the changes in three benchmark corn contracts traded on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), CORN gives you the opportunity to play the commodity, without having to wade into the actual commodities futures market.
The fund seems to be settling down a bit now, after a tremendous run-up due to the massive drought that hit the Midwest last year. But as more corn goes into ethanol production to create the E15 blend, corn prices could enjoy a steady bump going into next season. Two other companies you might consider are big players on the block and, as such, are likely to be first in line to reap the rewards of higher fuel content.
The first is agri-giant, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). ADM is one of the largest food-processing companies in the world, with farm holdings and processing plants worldwide. The company also has its hands in the commodity trading markets.
Since 2007, ADM has deployed billions of dollars in establishing its own fuel manufacturing business, with an emphasis on biodiesel and ethanol. So it seems only logical that ADM would be one of the first companies to profit from an expansion of the ethanol market.
While ADM is an "end product" play on ethanol, the next company to consider is definitely more at the beginning of the product cycle - Monsanto (MON). MON is the leading manufacturer of farm seeds and farm technologies, dedicated to helping farmers improve productivity and yield while reducing costs.
As the demand for more ethanol grows, so too will the need to produce more corn, on more acreage, with higher yields. And MON's specialty genetically modified seed could be in greater demand. And "the chase" continues ...