After The Black Friday Rout: 3 Retailer ETFs For The Holidays

Includes: XLP, XLY, XRT
by: Charles Lewis Sizemore, CFA

Black Friday was ugly. Early estimates show Black Friday sales down 11% over last year's numbers. That's a bad sign, though it remains to be seen whether this is a true case of retail weakness or merely a sign that "Black Friday" no longer holds the mystique it once did in the era of online bargain hunting. At any rate, before the Thanksgiving break, I gave my thoughts on the retail sector to Covestor CIO Sanjoy Ghosh.

Here's an excerpt from Ghosh's USA Today article:

Three ETFs are cited by Charles Sizemore, chief investment officer of Sizemore Capital Investments, but he points to the need to examine the underlying holdings of each.
For instance, there's the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEARCA:XLP), which gives you access to Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), Coca Cola (NYSE:KO), Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) and other stocks that typically are not very sensitive to swings in consumer sentiment. This is clearly not the most direct way to play a retail-driven consumer rebound, Sizemore says.
You might look at the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEARCA:XLY), which does give you access to retailers such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Nike (NYSE:NKE). But this ETF is market capitalization weighted, meaning that the top holdings can be skewed towards large companies such as Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA). Frankly, things have to be pretty bad for most consumers to shut down their cable. And when they have extra money, it doesn't necessarily mean they run out and buy more channels.
A more direct way to get exposure if you think the consumer is strong, is through the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEARCA:XRT), designed to more or less mirror the S&P Retail Select Industry index. This ETF gives investors a taste of several different pieces of the retail chain. It's an equal-weighted ETF, which means you get as much access to the smaller stocks in the mix as the bigger names. It includes, for instance, American Eagle (NYSE:AEO) and Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance (NASDAQ:ULTA).
You also need to be aware of price. Retail-focused ETFs have already done well in expectation of a strong holiday shopping season, attracting $360 million of investor dollars since early October, according to financial data provider Markit. Retail had lagged the rest of the market all year, but high expectations have closed the gap. This is a trend if you believe that demand is actually surprisingly strong, as you may not be finding a doorbuster deal when buying a retail ETF right now.

This article first appeared on Sizemore Insights as After the Black Friday Rout: Three Retailer ETFs for the Holidays

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered specific investment advice or as a solicitation to buy or sell any securities. Sizemore Capital personnel and clients will often have an interest in the securities mentioned. There is risk in any investment in traded securities, and all Sizemore Capital investment strategies have the possibility of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.