By The ETF Professor
Indeed, the second quarter of 2012 could include all kinds of minefields for stocks and equity-based ETFs to navigate. First-quarter earnings have the potential to disappoint investors. Of course there's the old "Sell in May and go away" conundrum to deal with.
For those willing to eschew the downside risks that the second quarter may or may not bring, there are some sectors and corresponding ETFs that have historically shown some durability in the April-June time frame. To be sure, this isn't an exact science and there's no such thing as a guarantee in the financial markets, but with those disclaimers aside, here are some ETFs that could be profitable Q2 plays.
United States Gasoline Fund (NYSEARCA:UGA) Yes, the United States Gasoline Fund might be the "Captain Obvious" Q2 ETF play. The summer driving season starts in late May and even if the U.S. releases crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve UGA has shown it can rally after traders digest that event.
UGA is currently struggling to break some stiff resistance around $58, but if it does get through that technical barrier on strong volume, it could run to the mid-$60s.
iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare Provider Index Fund (IHF) We previously highlighted the iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare Provider Index Fund as a potential winner should Obamacare be overturned but health care providers have a compelling March-June track record.
Along those lines, IHF was up nearly 3.6% in the past week and finished last week less than 50 cents below its 52-week high. The good times may just be getting started for IHF, which has a beta barely above one.
First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index Fund (FDN) The second quarter can be a mixed bag to say the least for tech stocks, but over the past five second quarters, FDN has been a decent performer. The ETF rose in Q2 2007, held up pretty well the following year before plunging in the second half of 2008, surged in Q2 2009, took a small loss inQ2 and notched a small gain in Q2 2011.
Looking at a 10-year chart of XLK, we find that the ETF has gone down in the second quarter of the even numbered years and risen in the second quarter of the odd numbered years, though from April-June 2011, the ETF barely moved. Those kinds of patterns have a way of repeating, so perhaps shorting XLK is in order.
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Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.