Industry ETFs Falling Short: A Closer Look at Select Sector SPDR Funds

Select Sector SPDR: A Closer Look at Industry ETFs

Select Sector SPDR ETFs, which are known for their focus on specific industries like technology and communications, are showing a worrying trend in recent reports. Despite their intended purpose of tracking and benefiting from these sectors, they have been consistently underperforming in the past few months.

Underperformance Highlights

In a recent analysis by Ned Davis Research, Select Sector SPDR funds lagged behind their respective sectors. The largest underperformer was the Communications Services Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLC), yielding only 31%. Its sector in the S&P 500 returned 41%. Technology and consumer discretionary funds trailed their sectors by 6.3 and 4.6 percentage points, respectively.

Select Sector SPDR funds show underperformance, notably XLC, lagging behind respective sectors, signaling potential investment risks, WSJ Print Subscription said.

Regulations Straining Performance

The root of this issue lies in Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations governing mutual funds. These regulations mandate specific diversification criteria, such as limiting individual stock holdings to 25% of a fund’s assets and ensuring that positions exceeding 5% collectively do not surpass 50% of the fund.

Impact of Market Concentration

Regulations, meant to safeguard market integrity, now impede as the stock market consolidates, led by a few giants. Sector-specific ETFs, like Select Sector ones, find it hard to balance exposure amidst this concentration. Maintaining adequate representation of key market players becomes a daunting task.

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Select Sector ETFs vs. Benchmark Weights

For instance, while Nvidia theoretically should represent 17% of a technology-focused sector fund, it comprises less than 5% of the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), according to Ned Davis. Other major stocks like Alphabet,, PepsiCo, and Exxon Mobil are also significantly underrepresented in their respective Select Sector ETFs.

Providers Respond

Select Sector SPDRs attributes this discrepancy to unprecedented market conditions, acknowledging the regulations as a longstanding but recently problematic factor. Dan Dolan, senior vice president at the ETF provider, highlights the challenge of adapting to the market’s evolving landscape while adhering to regulatory mandates.

Investor Considerations

ETFs may adhere to benchmarks, but mismatched performance raises investor concerns. Questions arise about efficacy compared to alternatives like individual stocks or broader index funds. Investors seek unadulterated sector exposure. Discrepancy prompts doubts regarding ETFs’ effectiveness.

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