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Is SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI) a Strong ETF Right Now?

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The SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI - Free Report) made its debut on 01/31/2006, and is a smart beta exchange traded fund that provides broad exposure to the Health Care ETFs category of the market.

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.

However, some investors believe in the possibility of beating the market through exceptional stock selection, and choose a different type of fund that tracks non-cap weighted strategies: smart beta.

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.

Methodologies like equal-weighting, one of the simplest options out there, fundamental weighting, and volatility/momentum based weighting are all choices offered to investors in this space, but not all of them can deliver superior returns.

Fund Sponsor & Index

Because the fund has amassed over $7.35 billion, this makes it one of the largest ETFs in the Health Care ETFs. XBI is managed by State Street Global Advisors. Before fees and expenses, XBI seeks to match the performance of the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index.

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

Cost & Other Expenses

Since cheaper funds tend to produce better results than more expensive funds, assuming all other factors remain equal, it is important for investors to pay attention to an ETF's expense ratio.

Operating expenses on an annual basis are 0.35% for XBI, making it one of the least expensive products in the space.

It's 12-month trailing dividend yield comes in at 0%.

Sector Exposure and Top Holdings

Most ETFs are very transparent products, and disclose their holdings on a daily basis. ETFs also offer diversified exposure, which minimizes single stock risk, though it's still important for investors to research a fund's holdings.

For XBI, it has heaviest allocation in the Healthcare sector --about 100% of the portfolio.

Looking at individual holdings, Global Blood Therapeutics Inc accounts for about 2.65% of total assets, followed by Karuna Therapeutics Inc. (KRTX - Free Report) and Chemocentryx Inc. .

Its top 10 holdings account for approximately 16.78% of XBI's total assets under management.

Performance and Risk

The ETF has lost about -32.35% and is down about -40.22% so far this year and in the past one year (as of 09/23/2022), respectively. XBI has traded between $62.81 and $134.15 during this last 52-week period.

XBI has a beta of 1.06 and standard deviation of 38.95% for the trailing three-year period, which makes the fund a high risk choice in the space. With about 135 holdings, it effectively diversifies company-specific risk.

Alternatives

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

First Trust NYSE Arca Biotechnology ETF (FBT - Free Report) tracks NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index and the iShares Biotechnology ETF (IBB - Free Report) tracks Nasdaq Biotechnology Index. First Trust NYSE Arca Biotechnology ETF has $1.26 billion in assets, iShares Biotechnology ETF has $7.69 billion. FBT has an expense ratio of 0.55% and IBB charges 0.44%.

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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