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Buffett Bets Big on Banks: Should You Tap Financial ETFs?

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Are you an ardent follower of investment guru Warren Buffett? Then you can blindly tap the banking sector for investment purpose.

Investors should note that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. BRK.B has added more than 84% in the last five years (as of Nov 15, 2018), way better than the 49% gain of the broader market ETF SPDR S&P 500 ETF SPY. Naturally, most investors look to imitate his strategies.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reported third-quarter holding where half of the top 10 holdings are large U.S. banks. Bank of America (BAC - Free Report) , Wells Fargo (WFC - Free Report) , U.S. Bancorp (USB - Free Report) , Godman Sachs (GS - Free Report) and J.P. Morgan (JPM - Free Report) are among the top 10 holdings.

There was a new position in JPMorgan Chase worth 35.6 million and Berkshire boosted its positions in Bank of America (which is its second-largest holding) and Goldman Sachs by 29% and 38%, respectively.

Why Financials Could Shine Ahead

The latest earnings season was a decent one for banking giants. Goldman, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Bank of America Corporation came up with a beat on both lines. Revenues of Wells Fargo and Citigroup matched the Zacks Consensus Estimate, while earnings of the former missed expectations and the latter managed a beat (read: Why Financial ETFs Are Down Despite Decent Bank Earnings).

Overall, the financial sector saw a 31.8% increase in third-quarter earnings, higher than 21.5% seen in the second quarter per Earnings Trends issued on Nov 7, 2018. It was one of the top-performing S&P 500 sectors. Excluding the Finance sector, total Q3 earnings would have risen 23.1%.

A hawkish Fed and upbeat U.S. economic growth also play in favor of the space. Investors should note that the latest data for the headline jobless level was 3.7%, the lowest since December 1969. With this, market watchers expect the Fed to enact the fourth rate hike of this year in December.

This should result in a rising rate environment and benefit financial stocks. Investors should note that benchmark U.S. treasury yields have been trending higher this year and have been in the range of 3.12% to 3.24% this month (read: Fed Meet Signals December Rate Hike: ETFs That Gained).

ETFs in Focus

Investors who want to bet on Buffett and faster Fed policy tightening, might be interested in financial ETFs like iShares U.S. Financial Services ETF (IYG - Free Report) , iShares US Financials ETF (IYF - Free Report) , Fidelity MSCI Financials Index ETF FNCL, Invesco KBW Bank ETF (KBWB - Free Report) , Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF - Free Report) and Vanguard Financials ETF (VFH - Free Report) (see all Financial ETFs here). J.P. Morgan has 8% to 12% exposure to these funds while Bank of America takes 5% to 9% of these funds.

Goldman is not that prominent in the afore-mentioned ETFs, it is rather heavy on iShares U.S. Broker-Dealers & Securities Exchanges ETF (IAI - Free Report) andSPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA - Free Report) .

 

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