Momentum Still Exists for Big Momentum ETF

MarketsETF Trends

This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

The recent sell-off in U.S. stocks weighed on some large- and mega-cap technology names, but the iShares MSCI USA Momentum Factor ETF (CBOE: MTUM) is still up more than 3% year-to-date and some market observers believe momentum stocks can continue climbing.

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MTUM tracks large- and mid-cap U.S. stocks with relatively high price momentum. The underlying MSCI USA Momentum Index calculates the ratio of each stock’s price returns over the trailing 13 and seven months against volatility over the past three years. Companies are then weighted by their risk-adjusted momentum.

“Momentum stocks are called such because of high-momentum characteristics like long-term uptrends and consistently high returns,” reports CNBC. “Oppenheimer has long advocated for buying momentum names, as well as the MTUM exchange-traded fund, which features large- and mid-cap U.S.-listed stocks with "relatively higher price momentum," according to issuer BlackRock.”

Investors often link momentum and growth stocks and while there are differences between the two investment factors, ETFs following those factors often have similar sector exposures. Notably, growth and momentum factors can and do expose investors to technology stocks. MTUM devotes about 38% of its weight to the technology sector and almost 20.5% to financial services stocks.

MTUM “which has risen 32 percent in the last year, outperforming the broader market more than twofold in the same time, is most heavily weighted by J.P. Morgan, Microsoft, Apple, Boeing and Bank of America, respectively. The basket of stocks, most exposed to technology and financials, rolled over with the broader market in the last week,” according to CNBC.

Since momentum strategies can overweight riskier stocks, the ETF could could underperform during another correction. Since defensive stocks typically do better during volatile conditions, the momentum strategy could load up on conservative picks and miss out on the initial recovery in riskier assets.

Additionally, momentum does not always mean increased volatility. MTUM’s three-year standard deviation of 9.8% is actually slightly below the comparable metric on the S&P 500.

“The MTUM specifically looks attractive as the market bounces off its recent lows, though not in the long term as the broader market environment has shifted fundamentally, said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management. He cited a broad, fundamental shift in the market environment,” reports CNBC.

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