U.S. Markets open in 5 hrs 57 mins

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Vanguard Information Technology ETF, First Trust Industrials ETF, Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund, Market Vectors Wide Moat ETF and Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Fund

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – July 15, 2014 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT-Free Report), First Trust Industrials ETF (FXR-Free Report), Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE-Free Report), Market Vectors Wide Moat ETF (MOAT-Free Report) and Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Fund (VIG-Free Report).
Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Monday’s Analyst Blog:

Best ETF Strategies to Consider Now

The minutes of the last FOMC meeting released last week suggested that the central bank is likely to maintain its accommodative policy stance in foreseeable future, even after it winds down its asset purchase program. With waning rate hike worries, stocks are likely to continue their slow, upward march.

Economic data in general has been surprising to the upside of late, indicating that the economy gained momentum in the second quarter after coming out of the deep freeze earlier this year. At the same time, while the labor market is improving, wage pressures are missing, suggesting that the Fed will not be in a hurry to change its monetary stance. (Read: 3 Impressive Mid Cap ETFs to Buy Now)

What Surprised in the First Half

Most analysts had predicted that interest rates will creep up as the Fed gradually winds down its massive support. But interest rates plunged lower, puzzling most analysts and investors. With low yields bonds portfolio investments returned to profits after making losses last year. That situation may reverse soon if interest rates start inching up, which looks possible now particularly in view of rising inflation worries.

Low interest rates also proved to be a blessing for emerging markets. With the start of taper talk, foreign investors had rushed for exits leaving EM stocks and the currencies in a downward spiral. The trend reversed this year with investors returning to emerging markets as they realized that interest rates in the developed world were not going up as earlier feared. (Read: Dividend Boom and Share Buybacks Put these ETFs in focus)

Now let’s look at what may happen in the second half.

Stocks Still Remain Attractive

Most stocks are not cheap now but they are not outrageously expensive either and they still remain attractive due to lack of any better alternative. A brightening economic picture and low interest rates are great for stocks and so I would not be surprised to see stocks moving higher from here. Investors’ optimism may get a boost if Q2 earnings and management guidance improve from the previous quarters.

Top Sectors for the Second-Half

With the economy picking up momentum, I like Technology, Industrials and Energy sectors. Technology sector has remained mostly out of favor with investors due to less-than supportive global macroeconomic environment. Pick-up in the global economy and business spending will benefit the sector.  (Read: 3 ETFs to Cash in on Aging Global Population)

Per Zacks Earnings Trends, total earnings for the sector are expected to be up 6.4% from the same period last year on 4.7% higher revenue. Continued improvement in the manufacturing activity bodes well for Industrials.

Rising geopolitical stress has pushed energy prices up this year, resulting in energy stocks’ outperformance during Q2 and while the prices have softened of late, the sector still looks attractive. Per Zacks estimates, Oil/Energy sector is likely to see earnings growth of 8.1% for Q2.

Some of the Zacks Rank # 1(Strong Buy) ETFs from these sectors worth considering are Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT-Free Report), First Trust Industrials ETF (FXR-Free Report) and Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE-Free Report).

Record low yields were supportive for defensive sectors during the first half but they now look quite expensive considering their growth potential.

Prepare for higher volatility

Markets have remained unusually calm so far this year but investors should prepare themselves for more twists and turns in the coming months. Mid-term elections and speculations over the timing of Fed’s rate hike may lead to some turbulence. And the possibility of pullbacks remains high.

I recommend adding some high-quality, stable, cash-rich companies to the portfolio. These not only shine during volatile environments but also outperform on risk-adjusted basis over longer-term. ETFs like Market Vectors Wide Moat ETF (MOAT-Free Report) and Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Fund (VIG-Free Report) are worth considering. Both are Zacks Rank # 2 (Buy) ETFs.
Stay Diversified

Academic studies have shown that in long term, the performance of an investment portfolio depends mostly (some studies suggest ~ 90%) on asset allocation, i.e. how an investor allocates money among major asset classes and well-diversified portfolios always results is better risk-adjusted returns. Diversification is particularly important in an uncertain market environment.

So, in addition to US stocks, investors should always consider some allocation to international equities and other asset classes, including commodities. Among developed international markets, I still like Europe and Japan. (Read: 3 European ETFs to buy after ECB Action)

Among commodities, while agricultural commodities may gain from weather related issues, they are generally more volatile and suitable for higher risk tolerant investors.

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Zacks "Profit from the Pros" e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research. Subscribe to this free newsletter today.

About Zacks

Zacks.com is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978. The later formation of the Zacks Rank, a proprietary stock picking system; continues to outperform the market by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The best way to unlock the profitable stock recommendations and market insights of Zacks Investment Research is through our free daily email newsletter; Profit from the Pros. In short, it's your steady flow of Profitable ideas GUARANTEED to be worth your time! Register for your free subscription to Profit from the Pros.
Get the full Report on VGT - FREE
Get the full Report on FXR - FREE
Get the full Report on XLE - FREE
Get the full Report on MOAT - FREE
Get the full Report on VIG - FREE
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/zacksresearch

Join us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Zacks-Investment-Research/57553657748?ref=ts

Zacks Investment Research is under common control with affiliated entities (including a broker-dealer and an investment adviser), which may engage in transactions involving the foregoing securities for the clients of such affiliates.
Media Contact
Zacks Investment Research
800-767-3771 ext. 9339

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

Read the analyst report on VGT

Read the analyst report on FXR

Read the analyst report on XLE

Read the analyst report on MOAT

Read the analyst report on VIG

Zacks Investment Research