Copper prices have always fluctuated, yet it is extremely difficult to forecast when and in which direction those price moves will occur. One can offset the risk of adverse price fluctuations through hedging.
Risk management tools, such as the COMEX Copper futures contract, enable copper companies along the entire supply chain to protect profit margins and minimize risk.
Hedging is essentially protection against negative price events. Just as you protect your home, car, or health, hedging guards against having to incur unforeseen or extra costs. If properly hedged, changes in the underlying prices will be mostly offset by the hedge, thus protecting profit margin and asset value.
The typical participants of a hedge strategy include the producers of the commodity and the companies that need to purchase the commodity sometime in the future.
The physical product to be hedged, on which a derivatives product is based.
Derivatives are financial instruments whose prices move concurrently with the underlying asset, such as the COMEX Copper futures contract. (Commodity code: HG)
Derivatives enable copper companies to obtain fixed-price solutions, reduce risk, lock in profits, and protect margins.
For example, a manufacturer of copper wire receives an order that it will not begin producing until six months from now. The manufacturer determines it will require approximately 2,500,000 pounds of copper to fulfill this order.
Instead of immediately purchasing all the necessary copper and incurring extra storage costs, the manufacturer decides to hedge the necessary material using COMEX Copper futures (HG).
The COMEX Copper futures contract (HG) has a contract size of 25,000 pounds. Therefore, in order to hedge 2,500,000 pounds, the manufacturer needs to purchase 100 HG futures contracts.
Current price of copper: $2.35 per pound
Current COMEX Copper futures contract price (six months forward): $2.38 per pound
The manufacturer buys 100 COMEX HG futures contracts (six months forward) at $2.38 per pound.
Six months in the future, the manufacturer buys 2.5 million pounds of copper at $2.75 per pound (prevailing price at the time) and simultaneously sells the 100 COMEX Copper futures contracts at $2.78 per pound.
In this example, the underlying price of copper has risen $0.40 per pound. Without hedging, the increase in the cost of purchasing the necessary copper is as follows:
2,500,000 X $0.40 = $1,000,000
This $1 million price increase has been successfully offset by the purchase of COMEX Copper futures as follows:
100 (contracts) X 25,000 (pounds) X $0.40 = $1,000,000
Profit margin is protected.
It is important to note that by hedging, a company is trying to mitigate risk, NOT make additional profit through speculation. Therefore, if properly hedged, adverse and favorable price fluctuations will net the same result.
|Product||Copper futures contract|
|Contract size||25,000 pounds|
|Price quotation||US dollars and cents per pound|
|Minimum tick size||$0.0005 per pound-$12.50 per lot|
|Contract listings||60 Consecutive Months|
|Trading hours||6:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. ET (New York time), Sunday-Friday|
|Termination of trading||Third last business day of the contract month|
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