Two ETFs To Reap Earnings Growth In Financial Sector

Despite facing new and fresh stress tests, large-cap financial institutions appear to be positioned for earnings-per-share growth in 2011, making the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) and the iShares Dow Jones US Regional Banks Index Fund (IAT) attractive.

According to an article in Barron’s magazine, Credit Suisse expects large-cap financial institutions like Bank of America (BAC), JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), PNC Financial Services (PNC), US Bancorp (USB) and Citigroup (C), to witness earnings-per-share growth of 25 percent.  The true driver behind this profitability is expected to be improving credit costs and more active capital management.  Read more of this post


3 Financial ETFs To Benefit From Interest Rate Jumps

Since the beginning of the month, interest rates have been on the rise pushing yields on 10-year Treasurys over 3.5%, their highest level in seven months, boosting the appeal of the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF), the iShares Dow Jones US Regional Banks Index Fund (IAT) and the KBW Bank ETF (KBE).

The most recent implementation of QE2, which includes a $600 billion quantitative easing program and keeping short-term interest rates at near record lows, has resulted in increases in long-term interest rates, resulting in steeper yield curves. Read more of this post

ETFs and ETPs Pass $1 Trillion Mark

According to a study conducted by BlackRock, assets in US listed ETFs and exchange traded products surpassed $1 trillion for the first time on Thursday. 

Over the past year, ETFs have truly penetrated the investment world as both retail and institutional investors have turned to them to access hard to reach markets and add diversification to portfolios.  At the end of 2009, there were 772 US listed ETFs with assets of $705.5 billion from 29 different providers being offered on two exchanges.  So far, this year, 171 new ETFs have been launched in the US, 828 remain in the pipeline and 49 have been delisted.  As a result, there are currently 894 ETFs with assets of $887.2 billion from 28 providers on two exchanges and 185 ETPs, which includes ETNs, with assets of $115.5 billion from 20 providers on one exchange.  Read more of this post

Three ETFs Influenced By Fed’s Stress Tests

In an attempt to ensure that US financial institutions are financially stable, the Federal Reserve recently announced a new round of stress tests, influencing the Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF), the iShares Dow Jones US Financial Sector Index Fund (IYF) and the Vanguard Financials ETF (VFH).

These tests are expected to prove a financial institutions ability to withstand another economic recession, in that they would illustrate enough capital reserves to absorb potential losses over the next two years.  As a result of this, large financial institutions that are overseen by the Federal Reserve, like Bank of America (BAC), Wells Fargo (WFC), JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Citigroup will likely have to forego significant increases in dividend payments to shareholders to keep cash on their balance sheets.     Read more of this post

Financial ETFs May Be Hit By Slim Bank Profits

Nearly two years after the unfolding of the global financial crisis, U.S. financial companies are struggling to grow revenue streams and are witnessing increased operating costs, resulting in slimmer profits which could lead to slimmer returns for the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF), the iShares Dow Jones US Financial Sector Index Fund (IYF), the Vanguard Financials ETF (VFH) and the KBW Bank ETF (KBE).

According to Bradley Keoun of Businessweek, first-half operating expenses at the six largest U.S. financial companies increased by $7.92 billion, or 5.9 percent over the same period last year, while revenues decreased by $5.6 billion or 2.2 percent.  It’s not hard to see that revenues are not keeping up with expenditures and this imbalance will eventually erode profit margins.  Read more of this post

5 ETFs Influenced By Global Banking Regulations

Recently, global regulators pushed through increased world banking regulations which will force financial institutions to increase reserves protecting against unexpected losses, with the effects influencing iShares S&P Global Financials (IXG), SPDR S&P International Financial Sector (IPF), the iShares MSCI ACWI ex US Financials Index (AXFN), the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) and the Vanguard Financials ETF (VFH).

More specifically, the new rules are designed to rein in the kinds of risky activities that aided in bringing down the global financial system.  The primary focus of these new rules is the amount of capital that financial institutions are forced to hold.   More specifically, regulators agreed to require banks to hold a specific level of a basic type of capital known as common equity, which is considered the most effective type of capital because it is used to directly absorb losses.  Furthermore, officials agreed large, internationally active banks will have to hold levels of common equity equal to at least 7% of their assets, much higher than the roughly 2% international standard or 4% standard for large U.S. banks. Read more of this post

The Many Benefits Of ETFs

One of the most favorable characteristics that ETFs have is their flexibility, or ability to be traded like stocks. 

This characteristic is beneficial because it enables an investor to get continuous intraday pricing and the ability to buy or sell a basket of securities through the trading day.  This further translates to pricing transparency, in that at any given time an investor knows exactly what the price of an ETF is.

Additionally, ETFs can be sold short, just like stocks.  This characteristic enables investors to bet against an entire sector, as opposed to just one stock.  For example, if an investor wants to bet against the financials, he can short the Financial Select SPDR (XLF) which will give him short positions in Bank Of America (BAC), JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Morgan Stanley (MS) and Wells Fargo (WFC) all in one trade; this will also reduce transaction costs. Read more of this post