How to Play Doug Kass’ 2011 Surprises

Doug Kass, RealMoney Silver contributor and author of "The Edge," as well as a frequent guest on CNBC's "Fast Money," recently published his widely followed 15 Surprises for 2011.

Businessman with crystal ball
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Businessman with crystal ball

Below I have listed my favored aggressive ways to play eight of those surprises, which have investible actions available through ETFs. Note that many include leveraged and inverse ETFs that are most suitable for short-term trading and which may have tracking errors over time.

Kass' Surprise: In line with consensus, the domestic economy experiences a strong first half, but several factors conspire to produce a weakening second half, which jeopardizes corporate profit growth forecasts.

ETF Play: Stay invested early in 2011, but later in 2011, establish a long position in a leveraged inverse ETF that seeks minus 200% returns on a broad market index. The most popular is the ProShares UltraShort S&P 500 .

Surprise: Partisan politics cuts into business and consumer confidence and economic growth in the last half of 2011.

ETF Play: Later in 2011, establish a long position in the ProShares UltraShort Consumer Services ETF , which is a leveraged inverse ETF that seeks minus 200% of the return of a basket of consumer services stocks.

Surprise: Rising commodities prices become the single greatest concern for U.S. stock market and economy.

ETF Play: Establish a long holding in the PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund , which gives exposure to a basket of agricultural commodities consisting of corn (12.5%), soybeans (12.5%), sugar (12.5%), wheat (6.25%), Kansas wheat (6.25%), cocoa (11.11%), coffee (11.11%), cotton (2.78%), live cattle (12.5%), feeder cattle (4.17%) and lean hogs (8.33%).

Surprise: The market moves sideways during 2011.

ETF Play: Establish long exposure via the PowerShares S&P 500 BuyWrite Portfolio . This strategy consists of holding a portfolio indexed to the S&P 500 and selling a succession of written options, each with an exercise price at or above the prevailing price level of the S&P 500. The income earned by selling call options provides incremental returns in a sideways market.

Surprise: Food and restaurant companies are among the worst performers in the S&P 500.

ETF Play: Short the PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage Portfolio , which holds a basket of 30 stocks in the food and beverage industry.

Surprise: The shares of asset managers suffer.

ETF Play: Short the SPDR KBW Capital Markets ETF , which hold 28 stocks in investment banking and brokerage (52%), asset management and custody banks (29%) and specialized finance (18%).

Surprise: The price of gold plummets by more than $250 an ounce in a four-week period in 2011 and is among the worst asset classes of the new year.

ETF Play: Establish a long position in the ProShares UltraShort Gold , which is a leveraged inverse ETF that seeks minus 200% of the return of the price of gold.

Surprise: China overplays its economic hand by implementing multiple tightening and by its unwillingness to allow its currency to appreciate.

ETF Play: Establish a long holding in the ProShares UltraShort FTSE/Xinhua China 25 . This leveraged inverse ETF seeks minus 200% of the return of the FTSE/Xinhua China 25 index, which will go down if the Chinese economy and market underperform expectations of continued high growth.


At the time of publication, Paul Mazzilli held no positions in the stocks or issues mentioned.

About the author:
Paul Mazzilli has more than 35 years' experience in the investment business. He is currently an independent fund consultant and a senior adviser and member of the advisory board at IndexIQ. He also is a senior adviser to S-Network Global Indexes and chairman of the Index Committee for the S-Network Composite Closed-End Fund Index. From 1997 to 2008, Mazzilli was director of Morgan Stanley's ETF research team, covering index-linked ETFs and actively managed closed-end fund companies. His team was the first to provide research coverage on index-linked ETFs and won many awards in this area. Mazzilli earned a bachelor's degree in industrial and systems engineering from Syracuse University and an MBA in finance from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

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