Thanks to ongoing concerns about the U.S. dollar and debt crises around the world, many investors have focused in on commodities as a way to save their portfolios from the ravages of inflation. Most investors have taken a closer look at a select few commodities such as precious metals, energy, or grains as a way to diversify their portfolios. However, one extremely important commodity has flown under the radar during this tumultuous time: water.

Possibly because the compound is not traded on a major exchange in a futures contract, investors have been slow to buy up companies engaged in various aspects of the water industry despite surging populations across the globe and high demand from a variety of industries. These companies may finally get some recognition as one of the world's leading firms in the sector, Tetra Tech (Nasdaq: TTEK) gives its quarterly earnings report later today. TTEK engages in the development and construction of a variety of water systems and provides consulting services for a variety of entities as well [see The Definitive Guide To Water ETFs].

TTEK is expected to post earnings of 33 cents a share on revenues of $385 million. While the earnings are projected to be flat from the year ago period, revenues look to produce a slight uptick from last year's fourth-quarter revenues of $367 million. Of particular interest to investors is likely to be comments on the company's growing footprint in the Canadian market following its acquisition of Quebec based BPR in October, which comes on the heels of its purchase of EBA engineering Consultants just two months prior. "The transaction is expected to be accretive to FY2011 earnings per share," wrote Zacks equity research, continuing "We expect the U.S. stimulus package to drive accelerating sales and profit growth over the next couple of years. Tetra Tech should exceed expectations in 2010, given its defensive growth profile, strong balance sheet and potential for further upside from stimulus spending and potentially accretive acquisitions." 

If Zacks' assessment of the situation is conformed by management in today's conference call, look for TTEK to get a small boost and drive a wave of buying to the water industry [also see Forget The Inflation/Deflation Debate The Real Threat Is Biflation].

Because of this earnings report as well as the general focus on the commodities market, we look for the PowerShares Water Resource Portfolio (NYSE: PHO) to be in focus throughout today's trading session. The fund gives its top allocation at 4.9% to TTEK while also providing sizable allocations to Valmont Industries, URS Corporation, AECOM Tech, and Veolia Environment. PHO has a heavy focus on the mid- and small-cap market with just 9% of its assets classified as large-cap firms. This suggests that a positive report out of Tetra Tech could go a long way in helping to boost the fund during Thursday's trading. This may help to finally garner some recognition for the water sector of the market which although it has struggled year-to-date -- PHO is up just 7.2% -- has gained 12.8% over the past quarter, suggesting that if TTEK is able to come through with a solid earnings report, investors could see their holdings in water ETFs surge higher to close out the year [also read Inside Five Surging Commodity ETFs].

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