Leading and lagging sector ETFs this week (IBB, BBH, SMH)

Includes: BBH, IBB, SMH
by: Nick Perry

Here you can see the top and bottom performing groups from last Friday's close through this afternoon, writes Nick Perry, who covers ETFs for Schaeffer's Investment Research. As you can see, this week showed a strong bias to the upside, as just five ETFs from my list of 54 showed declines, and even those declines were muted. On the upside, we see that biotech and semiconductors led the way.


In my column last week I discussed the differences between the iShares Nasdaq Biotech (ticker: IBB)  and Biotech HOLDRS (ticker: BBH). The fact that both ETFs made this week's list implies there might have been some generalized strength in that group. In an effort to see what stocks were on the move, I pulled together some of the stocks from the group and sorted them based on their performance over the last week. Here are the top-performing names:

    •      Enzon Pharmaceuticals Inc  (NASDAQ:ENZN)  + 14.5%
    •      OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc  (OSIP)  + 13.3%
    •      Amgen Inc  (NASDAQ:AMGN)  + 13.1%
    •      Human Genome Sciences Inc  (HGSI)  + 10.1%
    •      Affymetrix Inc  (NASDAQ:AFFX)  + 9.9%
    •      Alkermes Inc  (NASDAQ:ALKS)  + 8.8%
    •      KOS Pharmaceuticals Inc  (KOSP)  + 5.5%
    •      Protein Design Labs Inc  (NASDAQ:PDLI)  + 5.4%
    •      Millennium Pharmaceuticals  (MLNM)  + 5.3%
    •      QLT Inc  (QLTI)  + 4.7%
    •      Vertex Pharmaceuticals  (NASDAQ:VRTX)  + 4.1%
    •      Gilead Science Inc  (NASDAQ:GILD)  + 4.0%
    •      Biogen Idec Inc  (NASDAQ:BIIB)  + 3.0%

Perhaps the most surprising aspect is what is missing from this list - Genentech (ticker: DNA). As we discussed last week, DNA accounts for more than 40 percent of the BBH. Since DNA is not on the list (it gained just over one percent), we can assume that the BBH gain was driven by some of the other names.

The gain in the semiconductors is also interesting given this weekly chart of the Semiconductor HOLDRS (ticker: SMH)...


The SMH is once again back to test a level that has served as resistance since late-November. If you haven't read it already, make sure you read Bernie Schaeffer's commentary - "Schaeffer on Charts: Tenuous Chips" - which discusses the importance of this level.

Looking to my graph of the major indices shows us how some of the key barometers are moving relative to each other.


Overall we see a similar picture to what we saw above with the ETF graphs. One difference is the housing index, which has been strong but doesn't have good ETF representation. While many have called for an end to the housing stock rally, the group continues to hover near its highs.