01.27.2012
By Terry Flanagan

Canada Mainstay Leaves

Canada has been long-criticized for its lack of diversity, and the country is now saying farewell to an industrial mainstay.

If you are a Canadian investor, your top holdings might have a GICS (Global Industry Classification Standard) label of energy, financial services, and materials. These three sectors comprise the top sectors represented in Canada’s benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index.

Despite a rise in oil prices, the resource-heavy index declined late last week, lowered by a plummeting financial and energy sector, after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced it would likely keep rates near zero until 2014.

Additionally, one of Canada’s energy giants, Direct Energy, has recently announced its decision to move headquarters from Toronto to Houston, Texas—a rival energy market for Canada. Should Canadian energy investors be worried? Not really, said Matt Dougherty, managing director and portfolio manager at Chicago-based investment manager, Advisory Research.

“This is not a big deal. Direct (Energy) is throwing in the towel and moving to Houston simply because Ontario never deregulated its electricity market as hoped. Canada’s true energy hub is in Calgary, if we began to see energy companies moving from Calgary to Houston, that would be a cause for concern.”

Dougherty runs Advisory’s energy hedge fund, which has approximately 150 million under management. The firm has a total of 6.0 billion under management.

Apart from its energy fund, the group offers retail and institutional investors an international global value fund, international small-cap fund, and all-cap value fund, which have a large North American presence.

While buy-side investors generally strive for diversified portfolios, Dougherty feels that Canada’s energy-rich profile makes it a desirable market to invest, especially considering oil prices have soared over a steady 4% thus far in 2012.

“Energy has been a lynchpin of the Canadian economy, and many Canadian and foreign investors like the research rich aspects of the economy. Foreign resource companies have been aggressively snapping up oil and gas assets in Canada, and this trend should accelerate going forward,” Dougherty told Markets Media.

A spokesperson from Direct Energy was not available for comment.

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