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Is SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF (XPH) a Strong ETF Right Now?

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Launched on 06/19/2006, the SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF (XPH - Free Report) is a smart beta exchange traded fund offering broad exposure to the Health Care ETFs category of the market.

What Are Smart Beta ETFs?

Market cap weighted indexes were created to reflect the market, or a specific segment of the market, and the ETF industry has traditionally been dominated by products based on this strategy.

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

On the other hand, some investors who believe that it is possible to beat the market by superior stock selection opt to invest in another class of funds that track non-cap weighted strategies--popularly known as smart beta.

These indexes attempt to select stocks that have better chances of risk-return performance, based on certain fundamental characteristics or a combination of such characteristics.

This area offers many different investment choices, such as simplest equal-weighting, fundamental weighting and volatility/momentum based weighting methodologies; however, not all of these strategies can deliver superior results.

Fund Sponsor & Index

The fund is sponsored by State Street Global Advisors. It has amassed assets over $208.06 million, making it one of the average sized ETFs in the Health Care ETFs. Before fees and expenses, this particular fund seeks to match the performance of the S&P Pharmaceuticals Select Industry Index.

The S&P Pharmaceuticals Select Industry Index represents the pharmaceuticals sub-industry portion of the S&P Total Markets Index. The S&P TMI tracks all the US common stocks listed on the NYSE, AMEX, NASDAQ National Market and NASDAQ Small Cap exchanges. The Pharmaceuticals Index is a modified equal weight index.

Cost & Other Expenses

When considering an ETF's total return, expense ratios are an important factor. And, cheaper funds can significantly outperform their more expensive cousins in the long term if all other factors remain equal.

With one of the least expensive products in the space, this ETF has annual operating expenses of 0.35%.

It has a 12-month trailing dividend yield of 1.21%.

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.

XPH's heaviest allocation is in the Healthcare sector, which is about 100% of the portfolio.

Taking into account individual holdings, Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK - Free Report) accounts for about 5.24% of the fund's total assets, followed by Organon & Co. (OGN - Free Report) and Perrigo Co. Plc (PRGO - Free Report) .

The top 10 holdings account for about 45.84% of total assets under management.

Performance and Risk

The ETF has lost about -2.57% so far this year and is down about -8.65% in the last one year (as of 03/29/2022). In the past 52-week period, it has traded between $41.55 and $53.10.

The ETF has a beta of 0.98 and standard deviation of 24.99% for the trailing three-year period, making it a high risk choice in the space. With about 49 holdings, it has more concentrated exposure than peers.


SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF is a reasonable option for investors seeking to outperform the Health Care ETFs segment of the market. However, there are other ETFs in the space which investors could consider.

VanEck Pharmaceutical ETF (PPH - Free Report) tracks MVIS US Listed Pharmaceutical 25 Index and the iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF (IHE - Free Report) tracks Dow Jones U.S. Select Pharmaceuticals Index. VanEck Pharmaceutical ETF has $360.61 million in assets, iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF has $409.96 million. PPH has an expense ratio of 0.35% and IHE charges 0.42%.

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