For investors that like things big, as in companies with massive market values, mega caps are the place to be. Mega-cap stocks are usually defined as those with market caps north of $200 billion. Just 18 U.S.-listed companies meet that requirement as of Wednesday's close.
That group includes illustrious names such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK-A).
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Investors looking for a broad basket of of mega caps can get that exposure with some mega-cap focused exchange traded funds, including the Guggenheim Russell Top 50 Mega Cap ETF (NYSE:XLG).
Where The Big Boys Play
XLG tracks the Russell Top 50 Mega Cap Index, which is comprised of the 50 largest companies from the Russell 1000 index, meaning this is not the ETF for investors looking for mid- or small-cap exposure or even exposure to smaller large caps.
Analysts forecast 9% earnings growth for stocks in the Russell Top 50 Mega Cap Index compared with 12% growth for stocks in the Russell 2000 Index, according to consensus estimates presented in Morningstar Direct. Slower-growth companies typically have fewer capital investment opportunities and, thus, often have higher dividend payout ratios. The dividend yield for the Russell Top 50 Mega Cap Index of 2.3% is almost a percentage point higher than the average yield on stocks in the Russell 2000 Index, according to a recent Morningstar research note.
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XLG's top 10 holdings, a group that combines for just over 37 percent of the ETF's weight, is a who's who of Corporate America. Nine of those 10 stocks are members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average with Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC) being the exception. Not surprisingly, Apple, the world's largest company by market value, is XLG's largest holding with a weight of about 8.7 percent. XLG's average market value of $209 billion among its 50 holdings is the largest average market cap among all ETFs, notes Morningstar. XLG has advantages beyond pure heft.
The fund has 72% of its assets invested in stocks with Morningstar Economic Moat Ratings of Wide, Morningstars assessment that a firm enjoys a sustainable competitive advantage. That compares with just 49% of assets for the S&P 500. Its holdings also tend to be more profitable. They generated a higher average return on invested capital in the trailing 12 months through July 2015 (15.1%) than the average constituent in the S&P 500 (13.7%), according to Morningstar.
XLG competes with the Vanguard Mega Cap ETF (NYSE:MGC). While MGC is a fine fund in its own right, this is arguably a case of false advertising because it holds 300 stocks and the reality is there are not 300 U.S.-listed stocks meeting the strictest definition of mega cap. The media market cap of MGC's holdings is $96.2 billion, according to Vanguard data. That is certainly large, but it is most certainly not mega.
MGC's top 10 holdings, which combined for 20.1 percent of the ETF's weight at the end of the second quarter, include seven Dow stocks with Google Inc(NASDAQ:GOOG), Wells Fargo and Berkshire Hathaway the exceptions.
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