The prospects for corporate earnings haven’t mattered much to the markets in 2011. Instead, European debt news drives stocks dramatically higher or lower. Last week, stock assets tanked on less-than-anticipated demand for Italian bonds. This week, stocks skyrocket on better-than-expected desire for Spanish bonds.
Traders used to profit from this kind of volatility. They haven’t been doing so lately. Whenever an apparent stock downtrend emerges, along comes a semi-optimistic spin on how Europe can save its banks from declaring bankruptcy and/or save certain countries from defaulting on debt obligations.
In spite of the trendless nature of U.S. equities as a whole, however, there are pockets of strength. In fact, several non-cyclical economic sectors as well as a variety of yield-oriented segments are hitting brand new 52-week highs.
Are you still searching for ways to profit with less beta risk? Then consider investing in one or more of these 3 bull market uptrends:
1. Pharmaceuticals - “Big Pharma”
Uncertainty still surrounds the specifics and constitutionality of recent health care legislation. Moreover, the expiration of drug patents, generic competition and an onerous regulatory environment may cut big pharma down to size.
On the other hand, there’s no debating favorable demographics, as an aging baby boomer population in the U.S. and new markets in Asia contribute to greater profitability for drug makers. What’s more, drug demand is far less sensitive to economic cycles than technology and consumer discretionary items. Look to PowerShares Dynamic Pharmaceuticals (NYSEARCA:PJP) or iShares DJ U.S. Pharmaceuticals (NYSEARCA:IHE) for diversified exposure.
2. Dividends and Interest
It may sound strange to declare a bull market in a “promise to pay.” That said, with 10-year Treasury yields below 2%, virtually everything with a higher yield is winning. Many utilities with 4% yields, non-financial preferreds with 7% yields, piepline master limited partnerships with 6% yields and tax-free munis with 5%-7%+ taxable equivalent yields are hitting 52-week price highs in December.
How can you profit from the bull market in cash flow? Consider First Trust Morningstar Dividend Leaders (NYSEARCA:FDL), iShares National Muni (NYSEARCA:MUB) and/or JP Morgan Alerian MLP (NYSEARCA:AMJ).
3. Low Volatility
In a deleveraging-rich world environment characterized by debt reduction and spending restraint, one may not be able to escape volatility through traditional means; that is, one may continue to struggle with traditional asset allocation and diversification models alone.
On the other hand, there are ETFs which identify the least volatile stocks in a benchmark index. In so doing, the fund may decline in a market swoon, but it is unlikely to be a ruthless decline. By losing less, the fund does not need to climb as much on the upside to reward your market participation.
Consider PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility (NYSEARCA:SPLV) for the U.S. markets. Consider iShares MSCI Emerging Market Minimum Volatility (BATS:EEMV) for low volatility stocks from some of the world’s fast-growing economies like China and Brazil.
Disclosure: Gary Gordon, MS, CFP is the president of Pacific Park Financial, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC. Gary Gordon, Pacific Park Financial, Inc, and/or its clients may hold positions in the ETFs, mutual funds, and/or any investment asset mentioned above. The commentary does not constitute individualized investment advice. The opinions offered herein are not personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities. At times, issuers of exchange-traded products compensate Pacific Park Financial, Inc. or its subsidiaries for advertising at the ETF Expert web site. ETF Expert content is created independently of any advertising relationships.