10 ETFs For 2019

Jan. 22, 2019 1:06 PM ET
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Quant | Cross Asset Research, ETF investing, Macro, ETF Model Portfolios

Contributor Since 2017

Astoria Portfolio Advisors LLC ("Astoria") specializes in the construction, management, and sub-advising of ETF Managed Portfolios. When constructing our portfolios, Astoria utilizes a quantitative and cross asset investment framework. We stress test our models through various quantitative risk models in order to understand our portfolio risks and to help determine when risk budgets should be expanded or minimized. Astoria's founder, John Davi, has 18 years of experience spanning across Macro ETF Strategy, Quantitative Research and Equity Derivatives. John was Head of Morgan Stanley’s Institutional ETF Content where he produced hundreds of strategic content pieces over an 8-year period. It was a Multi-Asset job and involved developing investment ideas to add alpha to investors’ portfolios. For more information on Astoria, as well as important disclaimers, visit our website: www.astoriaadvisors.com/disclaimer

Value is emerging across the global equity space. Investors' disdain for equities is quite high. That usually means it’s the time to buy.

Astoria is turning constructive on risk assets after being skeptical last year. We are a buyer of risk assets at these valuation levels. We prefer systematic, rules-based, and multi-factor strategies.

We are attracted to US companies with strong ROE and ROA (i.e. high-quality stocks). ​

On the international front, we are attracted to value, quality, and low volatility strategies which are dynamically currency hedged. ​ In particular, we like Emerging Markets (which per consensus have the highest earnings growth rate in 2019 and the amongst the lowest P/E Ratio).

In Fixed Income, Astoria prefers ultra-short duration & higher quality bonds for now. We are concerned about the supply/demand imbalance for bonds in 2019.

We believe investors should look at alternatives which are return generators, as well as risk reducers. Merger arbitrage is our top alternative idea for 2019.​

When the world was swimming in a world of liquidity, buy and hold was the right strategy. We no longer believe that strategy will work as the Fed normalizes its balance sheet, global economies decouple, and policy risk remains elevated. Don’t be afraid to be tactical and dynamic in 2019.​

And of course, we will be including alternatives to soften our portfolio volatility. That is, after all, Astoria’s ‘True North’.​

Below are our preferred investment strategies for 2019:

  1. The WisdomTree US Quality Dividend Growth Fund (DGRW) combines stocks with above-average earnings growth and above-average quality. Historically, the highest-quality companies have outperformed all other quintiles over time.
  2. The WisdomTree U.S. Multifactor Fund (USMF) combines value, quality, low correlation and momentum in a systematic rules-based format. As of Dec. 28, 2018, USMF had a P/E ratio of 12.35.
  3. The JPMorgan Ultra-Short Income ETF (JPST). With the U.S. yield curve relatively flat, we believe that owning the front end is an attractive risk reward. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the 30-day SEC yield for JPST was 2.95%.
  4. The IQ Merger Arbitrage ETF (MNA) replicates a merger arbitrage strategy in a systematic, rules-based format. This strategy has historically had low correlations to stocks.
  5. The iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol U.S.A. ETF (USMV)systematically allocates to stocks that in aggregate have lower volatility than the broader market. Given the slowdown in the global economy, we believe more defensive-oriented stocks are attractive to own in an asset allocation portfolio.
  6. The WisdomTree Emerging Markets Multifactor Fund (EMMF). In our view, emerging market equities are offering investors a unique opportunity to purchase an asset that’s vastly discounted but has strong earnings growth. EMMF had a P/E ratio of 9.8 as of Dec. 26, 2018.
  7. The Xtrackers Municipal Infrastructure Revenue Bond ETF (RVNU) comprises bonds issued by state and local municipalities where the interest and principal repayments are generated from dedicated revenue streams. As of Sept. 30, 79% of the ETF had bonds that were rated AA or A. The average final maturity is 24.50 years, while the modified duration-to-worst is 6.33.
  8. The Direxion Auspice Broad Commodity Strategy ETF (COM). Commodities are valuable in multi-asset portfolios because they have low correlations to traditional asset classes and have historically provided a hedge against inflation. However, in our view, commodities should be tactically traded. COM has the ability to go to cash if volatility picks up. Last year, COM outperformed some of its buy-and-hold competitors (PDBC, COMB and DBC by 11-12%).
  9. The iShares Gold Trust (IAU). Gold has proven to be a good portfolio diversifier against policy uncertainty, exogenous shocks and elevated stock market volatility. In Q4 2018, gold was up 7.5%, while the S&P 500 Index was down 13.5%. With deteriorating dollar fundamentals, we favor holding gold in our multi-asset portfolios.
  10. The WisdomTree Floating Rate Treasury Fund (USFR). Floating-rate Treasury securities are an effective way for investors to reduce their exposure to rising interest rates while generating income. As of Jan. 7, 2019, USFR had a 30-day yield of 2.3%.

To read the complete report, click here.

Best, John Davi                                                                                Founder & CIO of Astoria

Click here for photo source

Any ETF holdings shown are for illustrative purposes only and are subject to change at any time. For full disclosure, please refer to our website: astoriaadvisorsjb | Disclaimer

Disclosure: I am/we are long DGRW, USMF, JPST, MNA, USMV, EMMF, RVNU, IAU, AND USFR.

Additional disclosure: For a compete list of all of our holdings, please refer to our website at www.astoriaadvisors.com.

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