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Is SPDR S&P Software & Services ETF (XSW) a Strong ETF Right Now?

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Designed to provide broad exposure to the Technology ETFs category of the market, the SPDR S&P Software & Services ETF (XSW - Free Report) is a smart beta exchange traded fund launched on 09/28/2011.

What Are Smart Beta ETFs?

The ETF industry has long been dominated by products based on market cap weighted indexes, a strategy created to reflect the market or a particular market segment.

Market cap weighted indexes offer a low-cost, convenient, and transparent way of replicating market returns, and are a good option for investors who believe in market efficiency.

But, there are some investors who would rather invest in smart beta funds; these funds track non-cap weighted strategies, and are a strong option for those who prefer choosing great stocks in order to beat the market.

By attempting to pick stocks that have a better chance of risk-return performance, non-cap weighted indexes are based on certain fundamental characteristics, or a combination of such.

Even though this space provides many choices to investors--think one of the simplest methodologies like equal-weighting and more complicated ones like fundamental and volatility/momentum based weighting--not all have been able to deliver first-rate results.

Fund Sponsor & Index

Managed by State Street Global Advisors, XSW has amassed assets over $576.10 million, making it one of the average sized ETFs in the Technology ETFs. XSW seeks to match the performance of the S&P Software & Services Select Industry Index before fees and expenses.

The S&P Software & Services Select Industry Index represents the software sub-industry portion of the S&P Total Stock Market Index. The S&P TMI tracks all the U.S. common stocks listed on the NYSE, AMEX, NASDAQ National Market and NASDAQ Global Select Market. The Software Index is a modified equal weight index.

Cost & Other Expenses

Cost is an important factor in selecting the right ETF, and cheaper funds can significantly outperform their more expensive cousins if all other fundamentals are the same.

Annual operating expenses for this ETF are 0.35%, making it one of the least expensive products in the space.

XSW's 12-month trailing dividend yield is 0.11%.

Sector Exposure and Top Holdings

Even though ETFs offer diversified exposure that minimizes single stock risk, investors should also look at the actual holdings inside the fund. Luckily, most ETFs are very transparent products that disclose their holdings on a daily basis.

This ETF has heaviest allocation in the Information Technology sector - about 96.80% of the portfolio.

Taking into account individual holdings, Asana Inc. Class A (ASAN - Free Report) accounts for about 0.77% of the fund's total assets, followed by Sykes Enterprises Incorporated and Trade Desk Inc. Class A (TTD - Free Report) .

XSW's top 10 holdings account for about 6.5% of its total assets under management.

Performance and Risk

Year-to-date, the SPDR S&P Software & Services ETF has added roughly 19% so far, and was up about 40.03% over the last 12 months (as of 10/18/2021). XSW has traded between $117.97 and $181.83 in this past 52-week period.

The ETF has a beta of 1.16 and standard deviation of 27.91% for the trailing three-year period, making it a high risk choice in the space. With about 186 holdings, it effectively diversifies company-specific risk.

Alternatives

SPDR S&P Software & Services ETF is an excellent option for investors seeking to outperform the Technology ETFs segment of the market. There are other ETFs in the space which investors could consider as well.

Invesco Dynamic Software ETF (PSJ - Free Report) tracks Dynamic Software Intellidex Index and the iShares Expanded TechSoftware Sector ETF (IGV - Free Report) tracks S&P North American Technology-Software Index. Invesco Dynamic Software ETF has $471.92 million in assets, iShares Expanded TechSoftware Sector ETF has $5.87 billion. PSJ has an expense ratio of 0.56% and IGV charges 0.43%.

Investors looking for cheaper and lower-risk options should consider traditional market cap weighted ETFs that aim to match the returns of the Technology ETFs.

Bottom Line

To learn more about this product and other ETFs, screen for products that match your investment objectives and read articles on latest developments in the ETF investing universe, please visit Zacks ETF Center.

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