Investors looking for industry exchange-traded funds that should thrive regardless of the outcome of th upcoming presidential election would do well to examine internet ETFs.
What Happened: Though it's one of the more unheralded names in the bunch, the SPDR S&P Internet ETF XWEB is shining bright this year with a gain of more than 57%.
What makes XWEB's 2020 showing all the more impressive is that its 46 holdings are essentially equally weighted, meaning none exceed weights of 3.51%. Translation: XWEB isn't dominated by the likes of Amazon AMZN and Facebook FB.
Rather, XWEB, which tracks the S&P Internet Select Industry Index, tilts more toward smaller though still large-cap internet names, such as Etsy ETSY and Pinterest PINS.
Why It's Important: In the run-up to and after Election Day, the allure of e-commerce and ETFs like XWEB is obvious: This investment concept, unlike so many others, isn't politically sensitive. Moreover, XWEB is being bolstered by pandemic-related trends.
“In a physically distanced world, we are relying more on the internet to both stay connected and to shop for necessities and discretionary items,” according to State Street research. “In Q2, e-commerce sales increased by 44% year over year, nearly four times faster than the average growth over the past three years.”
With names like Etsy on its roster, XWEB is also tethered to the theme of consumers embracing new categories within the e-commerce universe, a trend that will be durable after Election Day and after COVID-19 is finally defeated.
“The number of categories of what people purchase online has also expanded, from clothing and electronics to groceries, pet supplies and furniture,” notes State Street. “These new consumer behaviors will likely continue post-pandemic, as e-commerce businesses have provided consumers with convenient and appealing shopping experiences.”
What's Next: Another assist for XWEB, via holdings such as Pinterest, is social media users spending more time on those platforms. Again, that's something that doesn't have near-term political implications.
“Meanwhile, people are spending more time on social media, boosting engagement on these platforms. According to a survey of US social media users in March, 29.7% of respondents spent one to two additional hours per day on social media,” said XWEB's issuer. “Another 20.5% spent 30 minutes to one hour more. Advertising budgets and cost-per-click for paid ads are returning to pre-pandemic levels,with a shift from traditional to digital media.”
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