Getting Tactical With U.S. Sector ETFs

ETF Trends

Among equity-based exchange traded funds, broad market funds, such as the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) and the PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) , are popular destinations for investors of all stripes.

That should not diminish the tactical advantages offered by sector funds, particularly given where the U.S. currently resides in the credit cycle.

JA Forlines Chief Investment Officer John Forlines “believes that the United States is positioned in the middle of the credit cycle, which may suggest sector-based investments offer the best opportunity. Comparatively, Europe is in the earlier stages so a more diversified approach is appropriate. Assets were recently spread across 11 ETFs with two thirds of assets in U.S. and international equities, though Forlines said the team considered 55-75 ETFs for possible inclusion,” said S&P Capital IQ in a new research note.

Forlines’ Global Tactical Allocation Strategy is comprised of several well-known U.S. sector ETFs, including the $2.5 billion iShares U.S. Healthcare ETF (IYH) .

“Forlines believes the U.S. health care sector is benefitting from demographic trends and offers growth at a reasonable price. Pharmaceuticals (46% of assets) and Biotechnology (20%) stocks make up the majority of IYH. The ETF ranks favorably to S&P Capital IQ for the relatively valuation and risks of its holdings, based on S&P Capital IQ STARS and S&P Capital IQ Quality Rankings,” said S&P Capital IQ.

Broader health care ETFs like IYH have held up well this year despite the March/April swoon in biotechnology stocks. For example, IYH and the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV) have both posted 2014 gains north of 12%. The two ETFs have added a combined $639 million in new assets while the Fidelity MSCI Health Care Index ETF (FHLC) is already one of that issuers largest ETFs after debuting last October. [Health Care ETFs Deal With High Valuations...Again]

The Forlines Global Tactical Allocation also has stakes in the iShares U.S. Industrials ETF (IYJ) and the iShares U.S. Technology ETF (IYW) , both of which are rated overweight by S&P Capital IQ.

Although IYJ is not a Dow Jones Industrial Average tracking ETF, the fund is highly levered to Dow’s performance. The $1.3 billion features five Dow components among its top-10 holdings, four of which are also among the Dow’s 10 largest components. Those four stocks are, United Technologies (UTX), 3M (MMM), Boeing (BA) and Caterpillar (CAT). [Industrial ETFs Rise as Investors Favor Value]

Forlines believes that industrials will be a beneficiary as global economies recover, according to S&P Capital IQ.

The $3.8 billion IYW is clearly not small, but it does not grab the same amount of attention given to some of its rival tech ETFs. However, IYW has a noteworthy feather in its cap. With an almost 18.2% weight to Apple (AAPL), IYW has one of the largest weights to the iPhone maker of any ETF.

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