S&P Bullish on Tech ETFs (AAPL, QQQ, XLK)
Concerns of slowing global growth have caused some marquee ETFs tracking the technology sector to fizzle since peaking in March. Gartner (NYSE: IT), a provider of information technology analysis and research services, earlier this year pared its technology spending growth forecast for 2012 to 3.7 percent from 4.6 percent and has since lowered that estimate to growth of 2.5 percent over the 2011 figure of $3.66 billion. Still, S&P Capital IQ sees some bright spots regarding spending on hardware and enterprise software.
"Spending on computing hardware and enterprise software, while expected to slow, is still anticipated to expand at mid-single digit paces, as is telecommunications equipment spending. We believe this augurs well for many of the mega-cap names that are typically held in ETFs, such as International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM), Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL)," S&P Capital IQ said in a research note.
The research firm said events later this year, such as the release of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows 8 and new chips from Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), could be positive catalysts for the tech sector. S&P has a five-star rating on Microsoft and a three-star rating on Intel, the world's largest semiconductor maker.
The five aforementioned stocks figure prominently in some popular technology sector ETFs that S&P is also bullish on. Dow components IBM, Microsoft, and Intel - along with Oracle - combine for about 24 percent of the Technology Select Sector SPDR's (NYSE: XLK) weight. The ETF is also known for having one of the largest weights to Apple among ETFs.
Apple, the largest U.S. company by market value, accounts for 19.3 percent of XLK's weight. S&P rates XLK Overweight. The fund, which has $9.3 billion in assets under management, has lost 4.1 percent in the past three months.
The popular PowerShares QQQ (NASDAQ: QQQ), commonly known as the Nasdaq 100 tracking ETF, also earned an Overweight rating from S&P. As of June 19, Apple is QQQ's largest holding with an allocation of almost 19 percent while Microsoft receives a weight of almost 9 percent. QQQ, which has $32.3 billion in AUM, is off 4.2 percent in the past three months.
S&P also has an Overweight rating on an unheralded technology ETF, the Focus Morningstar Technology ETF (NYSE: FTQ). The Focus Morningstar Technology ETF debuted in March 2011 as a possible rival to XLK. FTQ features an allocation of 20 percent to Apple and a net expense ratio of 0.19 percent per year. That is slightly more expensive than the 0.18 percent charged by XLK, but modestly cheaper than the 0.2 percent charged by QQQ.
Other top-10 holdings in FTQ include Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG).
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