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How to Invest in Woman-Led Companies With ETFs & Stocks

Sweta Killa

Gender diversity is en vogue with women set to be a significant part of the market over the next decade. They are contributing to the global economy and stimulating growth. Research from McKinsey found that gender equality could help bolster the global economy by $12-$28 trillion by 2025.

On International Women’s Day, let us put the spotlight on women with commanding positions in the business world. Per several researches, companies led by women have a long history of outperformance. Women run a diverse group of companies in a wide range of fields, including technology, energy and retail (read: Beat the Market With Quality ETFs & Stocks).

Though the number of women CEOs on Fortune 500 has decreased to 24 in 2018 from a record 32 in 2017 as more than a third of Fortune 500 female CEOs resigned in the past year, they are still considered more effective leaders than men. The Fortune 500 also noted that the percentage of female CEOs has increased since 1998, however with some dips after 2011.

Per Bank of America Merrill Lynch, gender diversity can boost return on equity, profit, dividends and market cap at a lower risk rate. Companies with greater diversity on their boards have also experienced lower volatility in earnings and dividends. All these suggest a new era of women’s leadership in the world economy.

Given this, many investors are seeking to add female-centric companies to their portfolio although the list is still small. Below we have highlighted some top-ranked stocks that are headed by female CEOs and have massive upside potential in the coming years.

Anthem Inc. ANTM

This Indiana-based healthcare company provides medical products, through its subsidiaries. It saw whopping earnings estimate revision of $1.54 over the past 90 days for this year, representing 20.4% growth annually. The company also delivered positive earnings surprises over the past four quarters, with an average beat of 7.04%. The stock has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and a Growth Score of A. It belongs to a top-ranked Zacks industry ((top 11%), suggesting that it is primed for more growth in the future. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

The Progressive Corporation PGR

This Ohio-based company provides personal and commercial auto insurance, residential property insurance, and other specialty property-casualty insurance and related services primarily in the United States. It has seen positive earnings estimate revision of 27 cents for this year in the past 90 days, and has an expected growth rate of 14.78%. The stock has a Growth Score of B and falls under the top-ranked Zacks industry (top 38%) (read: Q4 Earnings Drive Insurance ETFs Higher).

American Water Works Company Inc. AWK

This New Jersey-based company is the largest and most geographically diverse publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company. The stock has seen positive earnings estimate revision of 7 cents for this year in the past 90 days and is expected to see earnings growth of 8.44%. The stock has a Zacks Rank #2 and Growth Score of D. It falls under a top-ranked Zacks industry (top 34%).

ETFs: A Better Play

While betting on an individual company is certainly a good option, investors can also play this space with lower risk and higher diversification benefits in a basket form. Currently, there are a three products offering broad exposure to women-led companies. We have highlighted them in detail below.

SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF SHE

This ETF offers exposure to U.S. companies that demonstrate greater gender diversity within senior leadership than other firms in their sector by tracking the SSGA Gender Diversity Index. Holding 169 stocks, it is concentrated on the top firm – Johnson and Johnson JNJ – at 9.5% share while other firms hold less than 5.5% share. From a sector look, healthcare, financials, information technology, consumer discretionary and consumer staples receive double-digit exposure each. The product has amassed $249.6 million in its asset base while trades in light volume of about 14,000 shares. It charges 20 bps in annual fees (read: First Woman Chief in NYSE: ETFs & Stocks to Watch).

Impact Shares YWCA Womens Empowerment ETF WOMN

This ETF has newly debuted in the space, attracting $3.9 million in AUM in six months. It tracks the Morningstar Women’s Empowerment Index, which is designed to provide exposure to companies worldwide with strong policies and practices in support of women’s empowerment and gender equality. It holds 219 stocks in its portfolio, with none holding more than 5.2% of assets. However, the product is tilted toward the information technology sector at 21.6% while healthcare, financials, consumer discretionary and communication services round off the next four with double-digit allocation each.

Barclays Women in Leadership ETN WIL

This product is linked to the performance of the Barclays Women in Leadership Total Return USD Index, which provides exposure to U.S.-based companies that satisfy one or both of the gender diversity criteria of having a female chief executive officer or having at least 25% female members on the board of directors. The ETN has amassed $38 million in its asset base and trades in a paltry volume of around 500 shares. Expense ratio comes in at 0.45% (see: all the Large Cap ETFs here).

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