Data snapshot: Listed agri is losing it

Small-caps are the only segment to post gains in Q1, with US agribusiness stocks underperforming their European peers.

The macro case for food and agri investments often rests on long-term predictions: demographic trends, climate change and growing middle classes in emerging markets. But sometimes geopolitical developments throw a spanner in the works, and the resulting market choppiness impacts listed stocks. Trade tensions and an adjustment to global economic forecasts help explain why the II80, an index compiled by France’s Unigrains that tracks agrifood stocks across Europe, took a beating in Q1, losing 4.9 percent.

The tremors left few segments unscathed. At the top of the capitalization scale, where blue-chips such as Kerry, ABF and Nestlé sit, share prices dropped by an average 5.4 percent. Large- and medium-caps also posted losses, though more moderate; only small-caps saw a modest rise (of 2.1 percent). European agri stocks, however, did better than their US peers, which fell 10.5 percent over the quarter and 17.2 percent over the year. Here are a few charts to explain what this means for listed agri’s long-term performance.