Category Archives: Select Sector SPRDs

SPDR Jumps 32.3% in 2013

Last year was a banner year for U.S. stocks and the ETFs that tracked them.

All results are total returns, with dividends factored in

ING Likes Value Stocks, Emerging Markets and Europe in 2013

Just like the Christmas season, forecast season rolls around this time of year with investment advisors predicting what the new year holds and where we should all be putting our investment dollars. Ahead of us looms the fiscal cliff, a combination of tax increases and large government spending cuts that could chop as much as 4% out of the gross domestic product. Should the fiscal cliff go into effect it could put the current tepid economic recovery into jeopardy.

In a press briefing at ING’s offices Tuesday, Paul Zemsky, ING Investment Management’s chief investment officer of multi-asset strategies, said he expects the fiscal cliff to be resolved by the end of this year, with a negative impact of just 1% to 1.5% to GDP. He expects to see an end to the payroll tax holiday and the Bush tax cuts for the highest-income brackets. He also expects capital gains taxes to rise to 20% and dividend taxes to revert back to taxpayers’ regular rate from 15% now. Should the Congress wait until after the new year, Zemsky expects to see a major sell off in the equity markets. “It could be as much as a 10% drop, but we would expect this to be a V-shape bounce because the government would have to fix the problem. We would consider this a buying opportunity should it happen.”

Stocks remain cheap relative to bonds, said Zemsky, and both U.S. and global equities are attractive investments right now with price-to-earnings ratios around 15. Zemsky said the housing market has bottomed and is poised to rise, however investors have not yet realized this. As housing prices bottom, this makes collateral stronger, said Zemsky, adding now is the time to increase investments in U.S. financial stocks.

Overall, ING expects 2013 will bring modest growth in the U.S., continued growth in emerging markets and the end of the European recession. Zemsky’s overall forecast predicts U.S. GDP to see 2% to 3% growth next year, which will lead to 5% to 7% earnings growth in the S&P 500. He expects the S&P 500 to grow 8% to 10% next year with a year-end target price between 1550 and 1600. U.S. value stocks and emerging market equities look especially attractive in 2013.

The most popular ETFs tracking these areas of the market are the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) and the Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (VWO). Click here for a list of ETFs that track U.S. value stocks.

Zemsky added that it might be time to begin overweighting European equities. He said people are too negative on Europe. While there is still risk in there, he said the Euro Zone is beginning to stabilize and this could lead to higher equity prices. Click here for a list of ETFs that track European stocks.

As for the bond market, Christine Hurtsellers, ING’s chief investment officer of fixed income and proprietary investments, said the U.S. market is not pricing in any changes in policy from the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. She says it’s time to underweight U.S. Treasury bonds and high quality investment grade U.S. credit. She recommends moving into emerging market debt, especially high-grade sovereign debt. The PowerShares Emerging Markets Sovereign Debt Portfolio (PCY) covers this market.

ETFs to Buy on Outcome of Election

Election season always brings out investment professionals offering advice on how to best invest for both a Republican and Democratic outcome.

SPDR University, the ETF information arm of State Street Global Advisors, released a report yesterday, Election 2012: A Time of Polarizing Politics & Heightened Uncertainty, outlining the best ETFs to hold depending on who you think will win. Written by David Mazza, State Street’s head of ETF investment strategy, it’s no surprise that all the recommended funds comes from SPDR.

In this low interest rate environment, high yielding equities have been a favorite among investors. Under a Mitt Romney win, Mazza expects favorable tax treatment for dividends to continue, thus companies that pay dividends would be big beneficiaries. Certain sectors and industries would also benefit under a Romney administration. Increased domestic production would help the energy sector, while less regulation would boost the metals and mining sector. A less restrictive tax environment would help the transportation industry and an increase, or at least few cuts, in defense spending would help the aerospace and defense sector.

The ETFs SPDR suggests for a Romney win:

SPDR S&P® Dividend ETF (SDY)
Utilities Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLU)
SPDR S&P Telecom ETF (XTL)
Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE)
SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP)
SPDR S&P Metals and Mining ETF (XME)
SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (XTN)
SPDR S&P Aerospace & Defense ETF (XAR)

Under another four years of President Obama taxes are likely to rise. Mazza suggests municipal bonds to investors in higher tax brackets. If taxes rise on dividends, REITs would offer a better choice for investors seeking income. However, increased government spending could spark a rally in the infrastructure sector. The healthcare industry should also “react favorably” to the president’s reelection.

The ETFs SPDR suggests for an Obama win:
SPDR Nuveen Barclays Capital Short Term Municipal Bond ETF (SHM)
SPDR Nuveen Barclays Capital Municipal Bond ETF (TFI)
SPDR Nuveen S&P High Yield Municipal Bond ETF (HYMB)
SPDR Dow Jones REIT ETF (RWR)
SPDR FTSE/Macquarie Global Infrastructure 100 ETF (GII)
Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLV)
SPDR S&P Health Care Services ETF (XHS)
SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI)

Should the political paralysis that has gripped Washington over the past two years continue in the future, preventing major changes, Mazza suggests non-dollar denominated assets and those with low to no correlation to dollar-denominated assets. This could lead to a broad move away from U.S. assets to those in high growth emerging markets. For those looking to invest in local currencies, he suggests non-US fixed income. Gold would continue to rise if countries continue to devalue their currencies to boost exports or the U.S faces another debt crisis. And with increased government spending leading to a long-term inflationary environment, assets with a real return should rally.

The ETFs SPDR suggests for an political paralysis:

SPDR Barclays Capital Emerging Markets Local Bond ETF
(EBND)
SPDR Gold Trust (GLD)
SPDR SSgA Multi-Asset Real Return ETF (RLY)

Hennessy Continues Cautious View on Economy

Even as the stock market surged on Thursday, Neil Hennessy, chairman and chief investment officer of the Hennessy Funds, continues to hold a cautious outlook for stocks and the economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 340 points Thursday, or 2.9%, to 12209, while the S&P 500 soared 43 points, or 3.4%, to 1285 after bondholders of European debt were browbeaten by politicians into accepting at 50% write-down to their Greek debt.

While the bondholders’ new Greek haircut removes one black cloud hanging over the markets, Hennessy believes there’s enough negativity in the U.S. economy to remain wary of the near future.

On Tuesday, Hennessy announced the rebalancing of his portfolio for his Focus 30 Fund. He screens for five variables, market cap between $1 billion and $10 billion, no foreign stocks, price-to-sales ratio below 1.5, growth in annual earnings, and stock price appreciation over last six months. This strategy has given the fund a 21.7% annualized return over the past three years, beating the S&P 500’s 17.4%. But over the past year the fund underperformed the index by 50 basis points to 10.37%, as of Oct. 27.

A closer look at the portfolio changes gives an idea of what Hennessy thinks will be the growth sectors next year. The biggest changes were consumer discretionary fell from 50% of the portfolio to 30%, while utilities jumped from 0% to 30%, and consumer staples from 0% to 10%. Meanwhile, financials, health care, and materials all fell to zero. With consumer discretionary down and utilities and consumer staples up this long-term growth mutual fund is so defensive it looks like they’ve battened down the hatches for a big storm.

Much like when I spoke with Hennessy a year ago, he continues to feel one of the biggest problems for business is the lack of leadership in Washington.

One of the biggest issues is that the Dodd-Frank regulations remain mostly unwritten. Without a clear understanding of what the government plans to do about new regulations, taxes, or the new healthcare plan, Hennessy says few companies are willing to hire. And with the presidential campaign picking up steam, he has little hope of clarity before the election.

With unemployment high, economic growth remains low, he added. Highlighting his sentiment is U.S. consumer confidence fell in August to its lowest level since March 2009. Also in August, investors pulled the most money out of mutual funds since October 2008, right after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy.

With the yield on the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 2.9%, Hennessy says, just like last year, companies will focus on dividends, either initiating or increasing existing ones, as a way to drive their stock prices higher. Meanwhile, the Dogs of the Dow, the ten highest-yielding stocks in the Dow industrials, currently yield 4.1%, or 30% higher than the 3.2% yield on the 30-year U.S. Treasury Bond. The Hennessy Total Return Fund is a mutual fund that tracks the Dogs of the Dow strategy.

Hennessy says stocks are cheap because market fundamentals, such as price-to-sales, price-to-book, price-to-cash-flow and price-to-earnings, are significantly below their 5-year and 10-year averages. The market’s P/E ratio is currently a multiple of 13, compared to its 5-year average of 16.

If you want to focus on the two main sectors of the Focus 30 Fund check out the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU) or the Consumer Staple Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP).

Five good ETFs for dividend investing:
SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (SDY)
WisdomTree Emerging Markets Equity Income Fund (DEM)
iShares S&P U.S. Preferred Stock Index Fund (PFF)
First Trust DJ Global Select Dividend Index Fund (FGD)
Guggenheim Multi-Asset Income ETF (CVY)

For my full analysis of these five ETFs go to Kiplinger.com.

Utilities Fund Receives Bearish Signal

The Recognia Report says that the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU) has hit what is known in technical analysis as a Diamond Top.

This intermediate-term bearish signal indicates that the stock price may fall from Friday’s closing price of $32.80 to the range of $27.70 – $28.60. Since it took 73 days for this pattern to form, technical analysis says this is roughly the period of time in which the target price range may be achieved.

Europe’s Financial Crisis Sends U.S. Stocks Lower

Fears over the state of European banks after the European Central Bank lent dollars to a eurozone bank sent European markets plunging and have started a huge sell-off in the U.S. One bidder borrowed $500 million from the ECB and the news suggests at least one bank is having problems getting the cash it needs, according to Financial Times and CNBC.

At Thursday’s close, the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) tumbled 4.3% to $114.51.
The SPDR Financial Select Sector Fund (XLF) sunk 4.8% to $12.38.
The SPDR Technology Select Sector Fund (XLK) fell 4.9% to $23.08.
And finally, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) rose 1.9% to $177.72.

Last week regulators in Italy, Belgium, France and Spain banned short-selling of financial stocks in an effort to curb volatility and bring some order to markets. How is that working out for you? Meanwhile, it’s nearly impossible to get any numbers on the shorting of U.S. stocks or ETFs on short notice, I wouldn’t be surprised if investors were using U.S. ETFs to short the European financial stocks.

Meanwhile, here are 4 funds that measure global financial stocks.
iShares MSCI Europe Financials Sector Index Fund (EUFN), of which banks make up 52% of the portfolio, plummeted 8% to $16.68.
iShares S&P Global Financials Sector Index Fund (IXG) plunged 5.2% to $36.99.
SPDR EURO STOXX 50 (FEZ) dived 5.5% to $31.06.
iShares MSCI United Kingdom Index Fund (EWU) skidded 4.6% to $15.71.

Finally, the ProShare UltraShort MSCI EAFE Fund surged 9.7% to $28.75. With a ticker of (EFU), this is probably the most appropriate sentiment of the day.

Vanguard Takes 4 of 5 Best for 2011

Steven Goldberg at Kiplinger.com writes a lot about ETFs. He starts out his article on the 5 best ETFs for 2011, telling you the worst ones to buy.

He doesn’t like tiny ETFs that invest in a single industry or a single country. I don’t like tiny ETFs, too much risk with an unproven idea. But single industry ETFs can be quite useful. Do you think the oil industry is going to rally this year? Buy the Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE).He doesn’t like exchange-traded notes, which are essentially debt instruments backed only by the company that issues them. These can be risky too, as in the case of Lehman ETNs. However, I think for most firms, credit risk is not an issue.

Goldberg thinks the majority of ETFs are little more than high-priced gimmicks. Definitely true for some. However, he doesn’t like the WisdomTree family of ETFs, which weights holdings based on dividends or earnings rather than on the more-traditional basis of market capitalization. I think dividend-weighted indexes have less volatility and don’t fall as much in market crashes. I do agree that actively managed ETFs aren’t ready for prime time, either.

Goldberg likes:

  • Vanguard Mega Cap 300 Growth (MGK), he says put 40% of your portfolio in this.
  • iShares MSCI EAFE Growth Index (EFG)
  • Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI)
  • Vanguard Europe Pacific (VEA)
  • Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock (VWO)