4 Shelter From The Storm ETFs (BKLN, ENGN, FCQ)
Even today's bounce, probably of the dead cat variety, the SPDR S&P 500 (NYSE: SPY) is down more than 4% in the past month. The broader market tracking fund also is still lower by more than 5% since the start of May.
That is much is widely known and it's also widely known that it's not just U.S. equities that have been under significant pressure. Indeed, it feels as if almost every asset class under the sun is being swept up in the broader market's calamity these days.
Fortunately, investors looking for some conservative, shelter-from-the-storm ETFs are not short for options. Just look at this quartet that has handily outperformed the S&P 500 over the past month.
PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio (NYSE: BKLN) When the PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio debuted in March 2011, there were probably a few critics that quietly said to themselves "Huh, an ETF devoted to institutional leveraged loans? Yeah, right. That concept won't catch on." Well, BKLN has proven the naysayers wrong, quietly ascending north of the $500 million in assets under management watermark. In fact, BKLN now has $561 million in AUM.
We were bullish on the ETF heading into 2012 and that view has been rewarded with a decent gain of almost 4%. In the past month, BKLN has lost a quarter of a percent, but that's still far better than what the S&P 500 has offered. Plus, BKLN currently yields 5.2% and pays a monthly dividend.
iShares Industrials Sector Bond Fund (NYSE: ENGN) On Valentine's Day, iShares showed conservative investors some love by rolling out a broad suite of sector-specific corporate bond funds. The iShares Industrials Sector Bond Fund was included among that group. With a distribution yield of almost 2.9%, ENGN is home to 81 issues that are largely investment grade. Investors should note that under ENGN's industrials umbrella fall retail, software, food and beverage and media companies in addition to traditional industrial firms such as Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT). ENGN has clawed its way to a small gain over the past month.
iShares Utilities Sector Bond Fund (NYSE: AMPS) The iShares Utilities Sector Bond Fund is the utilities equivalent of the aforementioned ENGN, though this fund isn't 100% concentrated to traditional utilities. Top-10 holdings include issues from major MLPs such as Enterprise Products (NYSE: EPD) and Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMP). As is the case with ENGN, AMPS pays a monthly dividend and both funds charge a reasonable 0.3%. AMPS has also fought its way to a small gain over the past month as investors have embraced bonds over equities.
Focus Morningstar Communications ETF (NYSE: FCQ) Speaking of sectors that are favored destinations when markets turn ugly, telecom is near the top of the list. With that, the Focus Morningstar Communications ETF is worthy of a place in the telecom ETF conversation. Unheralded and thinly traded, FCQ has the same expense ratio, 0.19%, as the Vanguard Telecommunications Services ETF (NYSE: VOX), but FCQ has outperformed the Vanguard offering in the past month and sports a higher dividend yield.
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