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Apple's Slide Exposes Flaws In Some ETFs (AAPL, QQQ, IYW)

April 16, 2012 11:46 am
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Apple's Slide Exposes Flaws In Some ETFs (AAPL, QQQ, IYW)

Earlier this month, Benzinga examined the impact Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is having on select ETFs that offer excessive weights to the tech juggernaut. It was a cautionary tale and our interview with Street One Financial President Scott Freeze highlighted an important fact: All is fine and dandy for an ETF or mutual fund with substantial Apple exposure as long as the stock keeps going up.

Whether it’s just a breather before starting a new leg higher or legitimate cause for concern, Apple has not been moving higher. The stock has slid almost 6% since our piece on April 4 and nearly 7% since April 10.

The pain for ETFs with exposure to Apple that can be considered dangerously large has been predictable. Yes, it should be noted that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), the largest U.S. Internet search provider, has slumped since delivering earnings last Thursday and announcing a controversial new share structure. In other words, Google’s woes have served as icing on the cake for tech ETFs suffering from something that just a few weeks ago was helping them: Obscene weights to Apple.

The iShares Dow Jones US Technology Index Fund (NYSE: IYW), the ETF with the largest weight to Apple at 22.16%, is almost 2% since April 10. Google also figures somewhat prominently in this ETF with a weight of 6.3%. If IYW violates support at the 50-day moving average right around $75, the ensuing decline could be nasty.

The PowerShares QQQ (Nasdaq: QQQ) is also fighting to hold support at its 50-day line. Apple accounts for 19.1% of QQQ’s weight, so it’s not surprising to see the fund down 2.3% in the past five days including today.

Different ETF, same problems: Big weight to Apple and fighting to hold its 50-day moving average. That’s what’s happening now with the Technology Select Sector SPDR (NYSE: XLK), which features a 19.3% weight to Apple. XLK is down 1.7% since April 10.

The obscure FocusShares Morningstar Technology ETF (Nasdaq: FTQ), a valid Apple play in its own right is being hurt by that validity. An almost 21% weight to the iPad maker has FTQ down almost 2% in the past five days.

How about equal-weight ETFs with Apple exposure? As we noted earlier this month, the First Trust NASDAQ-100 Equal Weight ETF’s (Nasdaq: QQEW) returns compared to the likes of QQQ and XLK were pretty good considering QQEW offers relatively scant exposure to Apple. The stock accounts for just 1.06% of QQEW’s weight, making it the fund’s seventeenth-largest holding. That puts Apple behind the likes of Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) and Priceline (Nasdaq: PCLN) to name a few.

Overall, that’s not a bad thing as QQEW has outperformed the other ETFs mentioned here in recent days. Then again, that just means being less bad as the equal-weight fund is down 1.6% since April 10.

For more on Apple-related ETF matters, please click HERE.

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