The unexpected jump in job numbers for June has sent the U.S. stock market to multiple highs yet again. The Dow Jones topped 17,000 for the first time, indicating that the activity in the economy is picking up strongly after being hurt by a brutal winter. Regained homebuilder confidence, increased consumer confidence and bullish global economic fundamentals further added to the optimism.
The strong health of the economy is driving up the bullishness on the Q2 earnings season that has now kicked-in and is considered the powerful engine for driving stock prices in the coming weeks. Overall, this earnings season is expected to accelerate from the previous quarter’s anemic growth pace (read: Market Beating Sector ETFs of 2014's First Half).
According to the Zacks Earnings Trend, Q2 earnings for the S&P 500 companies are expected to be up 3%, which is more than double the previous quarter. Revenues will likely increase 1% on modestly higher net margins. Meanwhile, some sectors are poised for better earnings than others and could emerge as big winners this earnings season.
Investors should definitely tap these growing sectors in the form of ETFs for this earnings season. Below, we have three such ETFs that might now be better picks and could outperform the overall market in the coming weeks:
The homebuilding and construction sector would likely be the major contributor to earnings this season. It is expected to report 11.4% earnings growth year over year on 4% revenue increase for the second quarter.
This is because of an encouraging sign of improvement in the housing market which stumbled on higher mortgage rates, surging home prices and a shortage of properties for sale. New home sales climbed 18.6% to six-year high in May while existing home sales rose 6.1% to an eight-month high. This undoubtedly suggests solid gains ahead for the homebuilder stocks (read: Has Spring Finally Sprung for Housing ETFs?).
For investors seeking to ride out this surge across the broad segment, iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction Index Fund ((ITB - Free Report) ) could be an intriguing pick. This fund follows the Dow Jones US Select Home Builders Index and holds a small basket of 37 stocks. It is heavily concentrated on its top 10 firms with nearly 63% of the total assets. About two-thirds of the portfolio is dominated by home construction, indicating that it is a ‘pure play’ on the space.
The fund is popular and liquid with AUM of just under $2 billion and average daily volume of nearly 4.2 million shares. The ETF charges 44 bps in fees and expenses. ITB added 1.3% over the 13-week period and currently has a Zacks Rank of 3 or ‘Hold’ rating with ‘High’ risk outlook.
This sector will continue to get a boost from the lower interest rates for a considerable period of time even after the completion of the QE wrap-up. Additionally, the lower yields are driving investors’ interest toward the utilities stocks that pay outsized yields and even act as a safe haven in turbulent times. These attributes will likely lead to the sector’s earnings growth of 11.3% for the second quarter (read: A Comprehensive Guide to Utility ETFs).
With that being said, investors should tap this solid earnings growth potential in the form of First Trust Utilities AlphaDEX Fund ((FXU - Free Report) ). This ETF tracks the StrataQuant Utilities Index and holds 45 securities in its basket. The fund has amassed $632.5 million in its asset base and trades in good volume of more than 222,000 shares a day. Expense ratio came in at 0.70%.
The product is pretty spread out across each component as each security hold less than 4.7% of total assets. Electric utilities takes the largest share at 35%, closely followed by multi utilities (27.9%) and diversified telecommunication services (16.0%). FXU returned about 4.4% over the past 13 weeks and has a Zacks Rank of 3 with ‘Medium’ risk outlook.
The energy space has drawn a lot of attraction this year thanks to geopolitical tensions in Russia and Iraq. The instability in these two nations has ignited fears of oil supply disruption, leading to higher prices of oil and energy stocks. Rising global demand and supply crunch in other countries like Libya and Nigeria further shot up prices.
As a result, this sector also offers opportunities of healthy returns to investors this earnings season. The energy space is expected to report an 8.1% earnings growth. One way to play this trend is with iShares U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF ((IEO - Free Report) ).
This ETF follows the Dow Jones U.S. Select Oil Exploration & Production Index and holds 76 securities in total. The product has been able to manage assets worth $579.3 million and trades in good volume of 102,000 shares per day. The ETF charges 46 bps in fees and expenses (see: all the energy ETFs here).
The product is largely concentrated on the top five firms accounting for nearly 41% of total assets. In terms of industrial exposure, exploration and production firms account for 71% share while integrated oil & gas take the remaining portion in the basket. IEO was up 10.9% over the past 13 weeks and has a Zacks ETF Rank of 1 or ‘Strong Buy’ rating with a High risk outlook.
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