ETF Showdown: The Battle For The American Dream
While it may feel like ages ago, it was just a few years ago that home ownership was considered one of the pillars of the American dream. Then along came the financial crisis, which was in large part fueled by loose lending standards to home buyers, and home ownership became more nightmare than pleasant dream for many Americans.
Obviously, shares of homebuilders became the shorts of a lifetime when the real estate bubble crashed, underscoring the profound impact residential real estate has on the U.S. economy. The good news is the housing market appears to be getting its act together.
The even better news is that has fueled impressive gains for investors over the past few months, making today the ideal time to have an ETF Showdown between the ETF kings of the residential real estate world, the iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction ETF (NYSE: ITB) and the SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (NYSE: XHB).
At the moment, both funds are giving up some of their recent gains and heading into today, it was fair to say both were overbought. There's more comparisons that need to be made than just being overbought because there more than meets the eye with these ETFs, particularly in the case of XHB.
With an expense ratio of 0.35% and almost $1.3 billion in assets under management, XHB is cheaper and larger than ITB (0.47% expense ratio and $439.1 million in AUM). However, XHB isn't quite the home building play it's name implies.
Both ETFs have exposure to names like Lennar (NYSE: LEN), PulteGroup (NYSE: PHM) and KB Home (NYSE: KBH) and both allocate some of their weights to stocks like Home Depot (NYSE: HD) and Lowe's (NYSE: LOW).
Now we're not saying that XHB is excessively weighted to those types of stocks, but Home Depot, Whirlpool (NYSE: WHR) and Tempur Pedic (NYSE: TPX) are top-10 holdings in the ETF. In other words, XHB has more exposure to the discretionary, inside the house side of real estate.
On the other hand, ITB's top-five holdings are all pure play homebuilders and account for over 43% of that fund's weight.
And it is that leverage to homebuilders that helps explain why at the start of trading today, ITB was up almost 34% in the past 90 days while XHB was up "just" 25%. Yes, costs are important, but XHB isn't cheap enough to make enough for the performance gap between itself and ITB.
ITB is the winner of this week's showdown and the preferred option to buy on a dip if you're betting on more bullish sentiment in the U.S. housing market.
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