As U.S. stocks have notched new highs after new highs this year, much attention has been paid to what sectors have been doing the leading. For much of this year, the leadership groups have been low-beta sectors such as consumer staples, health care and utilities. In fact, that trend is not new.
Going back to March of 2010, the only remotely risky of the nine sector SPDRs that has outperformed its staples, health care and utilities counterparts is the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY). Energy, materials, technology and other more volatile fare have been decent performers, broadly speaking, but ETFs with high-beta biases have lagged those funds with heavy allocations to value stocks.
For risk-tolerant investors, the good news is there are signs high-beta sectors are starting to contribute to the rally. Since April 16, the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) has gained 6.1%, a nice performance, but also one that lags the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) by 230 basis points and the Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB) by 250 basis points, according to ETF Replay data.
If the cyclical rotation is legitimate, the following pair of ETFs could benefit. [A Technology ETF for Cyclical Sector Rotation]
PowerShares S&P 500 High Beta Portfolio (SPHB):
The PowerShares S&P 500 High Beta Portfolio is high beta equivalent of the wildly popular PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility Portfolio (SPLV). In fact, the two ETFs debuted on the same day, May 5, 2011.
The two ETFs can be thought of as opposites. Beta is a measure of how closely correlated a stock’s returns are to that of the market. The market has a beta of 1.0, and stocks with a beta of more than 1.0 are more volatile than the market. [High-Beta ETFs: New Secular Bull Market?]
Just as SPLV tracks the 100 S&P 500 stocks with lowest sensitivity to market movements over the trailing 12 months, SPHB is comprised of the 100 S&P 500 members with highest betas over the past year. At the sector level, that breaks down to technology, financials and energy combing for about two-third’s of the ETF’s total weight, according to PowerShares data.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), First Solar (FSLR) and Pulte (PHM) are among SPHB’s top-10 holdings. Indeed, SPHB makes good on its high-beta promise as the ETF has surged 15.2% in the past month, better than double SPY’s gain over the same time.
Next page: iShares Morningstar Large Growth Index Fund