Each of the nine sector SPDR ETFs have traded higher this year, some in impressive fashion.
For example, the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (NYSE:XLY) and the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (NYSE:XLV) are both up more than 28 percent since the start of the year.
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Those are stellar performances to be sure and there are well-known benefits to owning sector funds like XLV and XLY. After all, those ETFs and dozens of others just like them allow investors to make a low-cost (usually) sector bet without having to stock pick in hopes of finding a particular sector's top one or two names.
There are, however, advantages to making more refined sub-industry bets, as a broad swath of ETFs have shown this year. The following industry ETFs have been soaring throughout 2013 and have the potential to build on those gains into the end of the year.
PowerShares Dynamic Media Portfolio (NYSE:PBS) With CBS (NYSE:CBS) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) being this ETF's second- and third-largest holdings, respectively, combing for 10 percent of the fund's weight there probably should have been an Emmy Awards bounce for PBS. That did not materialize, but PBS did not need it.
The fund has surged 38.7 percent this year, a performance that is more than 1,000 basis points superior to XLY, which is a relevant comparison because PBS is nearly 62 percent allocated to discretionary names. PBS is not a pure discretionary/media play. The ETF has a 35.3 percent weight to the technology sector, a portion of which lies in Internet names Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD).
Internet stocks have boosted scores of ETFs this year. Continued bullishness for the Internet space should help PBS keep up its torrid pace, though the ETF needs to break resistance at $23.50 to start a new leg higher.
Market Vectors Global Alternative Energy ETF (NYSE:GEX) Practically any ETF with the alternative energy wrapper has soared in 2013. Of the top-10 non-leveraged sector ETFs on a year-to-date basis, at least half offer some type of clean energy spin and that includes GEX, which is up nearly 59 percent. The ETF was reverse split at the start of July in what may go down as one of the most unnecessary reverse splits in ETF history.
Figuring out whether GEX can continue its already impressive rally boils down to the primary the ETF has rallied in the first place: Elon Musk's Tesla (NASDAQ:TLSA). No ETF has a larger weight to Tesla than GEX.
With a Tesla allocation of nearly 11 percent, GEX's weight to that stock is almost 300 basis points higher than the ETF with the second-largest Tesla weight. With just $88.4 million in assets under management, GEX is proof positive that small ETFs can generate huge returns. It should be noted that GEX is getting a bigger as it has raked in over $2 million in assets in just a week.
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Disclosure: Author does not own any of the securities mentioned here.
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