Media ETF Seeks Election Year Boost

ETF Trends

To be on the conservative or safe side, assume that the PowerShares Dynamic Media Portfolio (PBS) will not repeat last year’s heroics this year.

That is asking for a lot following a 60.2% gain that made PBS easily 2013’s top consumer discretionary ETF. Although PBS is eight and a half years old, proving it is smart beta jargon not the concept itself is new, some investors may not realize this is not an ordinary cap-weighted sector fund. Rather, the 30 stocks that populate PBS are selected based on price momentum, earnings momentum, quality, management action, and value, according to PowerShares. [This Year's Top Discretionary ETF]

All that said, what makes PBS a potentially alluring play this year is this is a mid-term election year. Although mid-term elections do not bring in the advertising dollars that presidential elections do, expecting a bump in ad revenue this year for cable providers and network owners is not unreasonable.

PBS is levered to that theme. DirecTV (DTV), Dish (DISH), Walt Disney (DIS), CBS (CBS), Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Time Warner (TWX) combine for nearly a quarter of the portfolio held by PBS.

There are two potential dings to this thesis. First, PBS currently does not hold shares of Comcast (CMCSA), owner of NBC. That means, at least for now, the ETF is not exposed to increased ad revenue by way of the Winter Olympics and unless Comcast comes back into the PBS lineup before the second half, the fund will not be exposed to election year ad revenue trends at NBC.

Second, as the Stock Trader’s Almanac notes, the second year in the four-year presidential cycle, of which 2014 is, usually is not as strong for stocks as years three and four.

Still, the following should be remembered: PBS debuted in June 2005, so it has been around for four U.S. election years – 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2014. With 2008 being the outlier because of the global financial crisis, PBS posted double-digit gains in the other election years, including a 20.2% gain in the 2010 mid-term cycle.

And do not forget that PBS is more than an “old media” ETF. Over a quarter of the fund’s weight goes to tech stocks, including a 5.3% weight to Google (GOOG), the ETF’s largest holding.

PowerShares Dynamic Media Portfolio

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Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of Google.

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