Discretionary ETF’s Well-Timed Trimming of Casual Dining Exposure

ETF Trends

The PowerShares Dynamic Leisure and Entertainment Portfolio (PEJ) qualifies as a consumer discretionary exchange traded fund and a good one at that.

This year, the $189.9 million PEJ, which does an admirable of mixing large-, mid- and small-caps among its 30 holdings, has jumped 42%. That is roughly 500 basis points better than traditional discretionary ETFs that focus on the likes of Amazon (AMZN), Nike (NKE) and cable providers.

One reason why PEJ has been a standout performer in a standout sector is its exposure to high-flying casual dining and fast food chains. When we highlighted the ETF a month, PEJ had an almost 6% weight to Chipotle (CMG), at the time the only noteworthy weight among ETFs to the over $500 stock. [An ETF for Burritos, Coffee and Donuts]

In early November, Starbucks (SBUX), Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD) combined for almost 12% of PEJ’s weight.

PEJ has retreated a bit since late November  and although the ETF is trading modestly higher Thursday, it is down 2% over the past week as unions and fast food workers press their employers  for higher wages. Fast food workers want the right to unionize and a wage of at least $15 per hour, more than double the national minimum wage.

It can be argued the workers have a point. Due to the slight wages paid by the 10 largest fast food chains, many workers have to claim some form of government assistance to make ends meet. Taxpayers foot that bill. For example, it is estimated that McDonald’s (MCD), privately held Subway and Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK-A) Dairy Queen cost U.S. taxpayers about $1.9 billion combined last year.

Wages at establishments like Chipotle and Starbucks are, in many states, better than at McDonald’s or Wendy’s (WEN), but the reality is no one is getting rich making burritos or lattes.

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