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A Look at Transport ETFs After Q1 Earnings

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The transportation sector has been seeing good trading this earnings season with stock prices declining just 0.1% (aggregate one-day stock market reaction to earnings releases) in response to earnings announcements. Total earnings of 97.5% of the sector’s total market capitalization that has been reported so far are up 2.8% on revenue growth of 3.1%.

Earnings and revenue beat ratios of 78.6% and 50%, respectively, are not quite encouraging. Most of the industry players missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings or revenues or both (see: all the Industrials ETFs here).

For a better understanding, let’s delve into the earnings of some well-known industry players:

Transportation Earnings in Focus

The world's largest package delivery company United Parcel Service (UPS - Free Report) missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for both earnings and revenues. Earnings of $1.39 were 3 cents below the estimate while revenues of $17.16 billion fell short of the estimated $17.79 billion. For 2019, the company continues to expect earnings per share in the range of $7.45-$7.75. The Zacks Consensus Estimate at the time of earnings release was pegged at $7.52.

Major railroads Norfolk Southern Corp (NSC - Free Report) and Union Pacific (UNP - Free Report) topped earnings estimates. Norfolk Southern outpaced earnings estimates by 34 cents, while earnings at Union Pacific beat the consensus estimate by 4 cents. Revenues at NSC trumped the Zacks Consensus Estimate by $39.1 million while UNP’s revenues fell shy by $91.3 million. Meanwhile, earnings at Kansas City Southern (KSU - Free Report) outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 9 cents while revenues marginally beat the consensus estimate by 1.02%.

U.S. airlines Delta Air Lines (DAL - Free Report) and United Continental (UAL - Free Report) beat earnings estimates. Earnings at Delta edged past the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 6 cents while revenues were $0.9 billion above the estimate. At United Continental, earnings of $1.15 edged past the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 94 cents while revenues of $9.6 billion matched the estimate. United Continental expects 2019 earnings per share of $10-$12 (read: Top and Flop Sector ETFs on Tougher U.S. Sanctions on Iran).

Last but not the least, earnings of leading trucking carrier J.B. Hunt (JBHT - Free Report) missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 16 cents. Revenues of $2.09 billion beat the consensus estimate by $11 million.

ETFs in Focus

Decent results have pushed transportation ETFs higher with iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Fund (IYT - Free Report) , SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (XTN - Free Report) and First Trust Nasdaq Transportation ETF (FTXR - Free Report) gaining 0.8%, 0.8% and 0.2%, respectively.

IYT

The fund tracks the Dow Jones Transportation Average Index, giving investors exposure to a small basket of 20 securities. It is heavily concentrated on the top three firms with a double-digit exposure each while other firms hold less than 7% of assets. From a sector perspective, railroads, and air freight & logistics take the largest share with 32.8% and 25.4% share, respectively, while airlines and trucking round off the next two spots with double-digit exposure each. The fund has accumulated nearly $581.8 million in AUM and sees solid trading volume of around 263,000 shares a day. It charges 43 bps in annual fees and has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) with a High risk outlook (read: Air ETFs, Stocks Set to Gain on Upbeat Spring Travel Trend).

XTN

This fund tracks the S&P Transportation Select Industry Index, holding 42 stocks in its basket with none accounting for more than 3.4% share. Further, about 31.5% of the portfolio is dominated by trucking, while airlines, and air freight & logistics receive 26.5% and 22% share, respectively. With AUM of $163.1 million, the fund charges 35 bps in fees per year from investors and trades in a lower volume of around 20,000 shares a day. It has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a High risk outlook.

FTXR

This fund offers exposure to the most-liquid U.S. transportation securities based on volatility, value and growth by tracking the Nasdaq US Smart Transportation Index. It holds 30 stocks in its basket with each accounting for less than 8.6% share. Ground freight & logistics takes the top spot at 31.5% while airlines, auto & truck manufacturers, and auto, truck & motorcycle parts round off the next three spots. FTXR has accumulated $2.5 million in its asset base and charges 60 bps in annual fees. Average trading volume is a meager 1,000 shares. FTXR has a Zacks ETF Rank #4 (Sell).

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