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Who Is Anthony Ward?

You might not have heard of him, but you might have heard about someone locking up 7% of the annual Cocoa production recently. He’s the man behind the trade. His firm is known as Armajaro and they are huge players in the physical commodity space, procuring soft commodities around the world for their clients.

The Financial Times ran a story on the delivery called Hedge fund develops taste for chocolate assets.

Excerpt from The FT:

A London hedge fund has swept up a large chunk of the world’s stocks of cocoa beans, helping to drive prices of the basic ingredient of chocolate to their highest level in 33 years.

Traders said that Armajaro, which runs several commodities funds, took delivery on Friday of 240,100 tonnes of cocoa, the biggest delivery from London’s Liffe exchange since 1996 and equal to about 7 per cent of annual global production.

Now, back to the facts…

The title “Hedge fund develops taste for chocolate assets” is a bit misleading, but it sounds a lot sexier than “Cocoa Wholesaler Accepts Delivery For It’s Clients.” The spreads in Cocoa are very narrow, so IMO Armajaro is not employing a “cash and carry” trade right now, and they are probably parceling out their inventory or engaging in swaps.

The day the delivery was announced, ICE Cocoa in the US sold off. Furthermore, taking delivery of cocoa today has absolutely no effect on what happened several months ago. Taking delivery today may be due to higher prices, but it does not cause them.

Ward, who traded for Philipp Brothers (Phibro) has traded Cocoa and Coffee for over 27 years and at one time was the Chairman of European Cocoa Association.

Here is a video of that “jammy dodger” wholesaler…

I love cocoa. I admit it’s one of my favorite commodities to trade too. I own a copy of Helmut Weymar’s Ph.D on Cocoa from MIT from the 1960s.

If you’re a systems guy, that probably sounds like blasphemy b/c you’re supposed to look at everything “as a 1% risk unit” so you become indifferent to any particular commodity. But that’s bullsh*t. Anyone who believes that is just parroting Seykota or something else they’ve read in Market Wizards. I find it hard to believe that anyone actually “lives” that. I don’t and I didn’t when I traded 100% systematically.

Martin’s first rule: “Think for yourself. Feel for yourself.”

cocoa

The contract had an enormous sell-off the day the delivery was announced. However, this is the ICE contract which is priced in USD, not the LIFFE/Euronext contract that was discussed in the news and is quoted in GBP. Here is that chart:

liffe.cocoa

I’ve written extensively about Cocoa here at the famous MartinKronicle, including How To Marry Fundamental And Technical Analysis In Cocoa and How To Trade The Cocoa Trend Reversal.

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  • Mike Melissinos

    Hi Mr. Martin. I am new to systematic trading. I am intrigued what you say above, “If you’re a systems guy, that probably sounds like blasphemy b/c you’re supposed to look at everything “as a 1% risk unit” so you become indifferent to any particular commodity. But that’s bullsh*t. Anyone who believes that is just parroting Seykota or something else they’ve read in Market Wizards. I find it hard to believe that anyone actually “lives” that. I don’t and I didn’t when I traded 100% systematically.”

    My question is if managers are betting more on certain trades, in a systematic way, then how do they decide when to bet more or less? I assume this is a matter of a higher odds trade based on historical testing, but I am not completely confident in my conclusion here. Thanks.

    Michael