Tag Archives: Utilities Select Sector SPDR

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

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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.

Talking About Beating Bond Yields

Charles Wallace, a great business writer, gave me and Dividend Stocks for Dummies a nice write up in his AOL Daily Finance piece on where to invest in a rocky market.

“In a volatile environment, where the stock market can go down and bonds are paying extremely low interest, a good place to beat the rate of return on bonds is dividend stocks,” Lawrence Carrel says. “If you can get potential upside in your investment at a yield that is 60% to 100% better than the 10-year Treasury, why wouldn’t you take it?”

I mention a few stocks posting yields much higher than bonds, as well as Utiities Select Spider Fund (XLU), which currently yields 4.1% or 52% more than the 10-year Treasury.

For the full article go to DailyFinance.

Podcast of My Recent Radio Appearance

I recently spoke on The Index Investing Show with Ron DeLegge. Here is a podcast of the July 25 show.

I talk about the best dividend-paying industries and the best ETFs for dividend investing. I explain how WisdomTree’s dividend-based ETFs pay dividends and mention Vanguard REIT ETF VNQ, which yields 4.6%, and the Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU), which yields 4.3%.

This is a podcast of the entire show, which is 45 minutes long. It’s a good show, but if you just want to hear me, I come on 33 minutes into the show.

Top Movers in a Volatile Market

Street Insider.com lists some of the most active ETFs today.

At 2 pm:

iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN
(VXX) rose 8.37% to $28.30, on midday volume of 44 million shares, already four times more than its daily average volume. The ETF tracks the CBOE VIX, which is up 28.5% today to a near-term high of $42.15.

United States Natural Gas (UNG) gained 1.2% to $6.89 midafternoon on volume of 20.2 million vs. 26.8 daily average.

Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU) up 0.34% to $29.35, volume was already double the daily average at 10.6 million. People are moving to utilities for safety and dividends.

United States Oil (USO) fell 1.89% to $36.26 as crude oil futures posted steep losses for the fourth consecutive day. Mid-morning, the June 10 contracts hit an 11-week low near $74.50 a barrel, but were down $1.46 to $75.43 late afternoon. Volume was up 80% to 18 million.

Financial Select Sector SPDR
(XLF) was actually flat at 2 p.m. at $15.26. Volume had surged to 260 million from a daily average of 103 million. Goldman Sachs (GS) is up 1.7% to $144.65 in the wake of its annual shareholder meeting.

PowerShares/Van Eck Tie for Most Innovative U.S. ETF

Invesco PowerShares and Van Eck’s Market Vectors shared the 2008 award for the Most Innovative ETF the Americas at the 5th annual Global ETF Awards recently. Daiwa FTSE Sharia Japan 100 won Most Innovative ETF in Asia, while db x-trackers and Lyxor Asset Management tied in Europe.

The actual ETFs weren’t listed, as voters aren’t required to mention the fund’s name, just the firm’s. It’s probably just as well. I surmise that PowerShares won for producing the first family of active ETFs in the U.S. rather than any particular fund. PowerShares’ Active Alpha Multi Cap Fund (PQZ), Active AlphaQ Fund (PQY), Active Low Duration Fund (PLK) and the Active Mega-Cap Fund (PMA) were all launched on April 11, 2008. Does any one fund stand out as more innovative than the others? I don’t think so. I suggest they won more for bringing the active concept to the U.S. market.

PowerShares actually didn’t launch the first active ETF. It had been in a race to come out with the first active ETF, but lost to Bear Stearns by just a matter of weeks. However, when Bear Stearns died, so did its active fund, leaving PowerShares with the first viable active ETFs in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Market Vectors launched five ETFs last year. If I had to guess, I would say they won for their funds covering frontier markets, Africa Index ETF (AFK) and Gulf States Index ETF (MES).

The SPDRs brand of ETFs from State Street Global Advisors again won Most Recognized ETF Brand in the Americas. This is probably due to the fact that the SPDR (SPY) was the first ETF and is the largest and most liquid ETF on the U.S. market. But I’m sure a lot of this has to do with the ad campaign for Select Sector SPDRs.

These commercials, which run often on CNBC, show spiders building webs in the industry-signifying shapes such as an oil derrick for the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE), a hard hat for the Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB) or light bulb for Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU). The ad makes a really good connection between the name SPDR and that fact that these are funds to invest in. SPDR also surprised many people by winning Most Informative Website, SPDRS.com. The site is a big advancement over the previous incarnation and much easier to use.

The Global ETF Awards are like the Oscars of the ETF industry. They are unique on Wall Street, because as far as I know these are the only awards in which an industry is invited to vote on itself. This makes winning extremely special because it’s your competitors who say you’ve done a good job, rather than a few individuals.

Some people who read my previous note about the awards seemed to think the conference and awards deal only with the international market. That’s not right. As I clearly stated previously, it’s the only conference that deals with BOTH U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL issues. Nearly every company in the U.S. ETF industry attended and many had representatives speaking on panels. However, unlike other ETF conference I’ve attended, which are completely focused on the U.S., this conference also addresses issues affecting ETF providers outside the U.S.

It was a great opportunity to network with not just State Street, Bank of New York Mellon, ProShares, PowerShares and Barclays, to name a few, but also representatives from the Bank of Ireland, France’s Lyxor, the London Stock Exchange and China Asset Management.

The conference and awards dinner are presented by ExchangeTradedFunds.com and were held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

For the complete list of winners go to ExchangeTradedFunds.com.