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Does This New Consumer Discretionary ETF Look Promising?

Consumer discretionary is one of the sectors that have delivered commendable performance so far this year. The credit goes to the recovering U.S. economy, cheap gas prices, subdued inflation and prolonged ultra-low interest rates. The recent Fed minutes revealing its reluctance to raise interest rates in the near term should bode well for the sector, at least for the rest of the year.

Notably, the most popular consumer discretionary ETF, Consumer Discret Sel Sect SPDR ETF ( XLY ), returned 7.7% in the year-to-date timeframe while S&P 500 Index lost 2.1% in the same period.

Manulife Financial Corp's ( MFC ) insurance and investment manager John Hancock has forayed into the ETF world with six multi-factor smart beta offerings. One of them is JHancock Multifactor Cnsmr Discret ETF , trading under the symbol JHMC . The launch of this consumer discretionary focused ETF looks to be timely.

Smart beta ETFs aim to obtain a return that's higher than the return of the benchmark index, which is the fund's alpha. Apart from higher returns, the fund seeks to reduce costs and enhance diversification. They follow a passive management strategy with a tweak in the component weightings unlike traditional, market-cap-weighted index funds (read: 5 Smart Beta ETFs to Beat the Choppy Market ).

JHMC in Details

Like other ETFs of John Hancock, JHMC is also based on the index that is developed by Dimensional Fund Advisors, which will also act as the sub-advisor to the fund. Dimensional is one of the first managers to work on multi-factor and rules-based investing. The index comprises securities in the consumer discretionary sector within the U.S. universe whose market capitalizations are larger than that of the 1001st largest U.S. company.

The ETF comprises 154 holdings with Comcast Corporation ( CMCSA ) occupying the top position with 3.52% share, followed by Amazon.com, Inc. ( AMZN ) with 3.45% share and The Home Depot, Inc. ( HD ) with 3.22% share. The top 10 holdings constitute around 23.96% of the fund.

As far as sector allocation is concerned, media takes the top spot with 22.38% allocation, followed by specialty retail, and hotels, restaurants and leisure with 22.32% and 14.66% shares, respectively.

The fund is moderately expensive as it charges 50 bps in fees from investors per year (see all Consumer Discretionary ETF shere).

How Does it Fit in a Portfolio?

The upbeat September auto sales data triggered optimism in the consumer discretionary sector. U.S. light-vehicle sales increased 15.7% year over year to 1.44 million units in September. Sales on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate ("SAAR") basis surged to 18.17 million units in the month from 16.53 million units in September 2014. It was the highest SAAR since Jul 2005.

Further, retail sales spending indicates positive consumer sentiment for the sector. Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70% of the economic activity in the U.S. In August, personal spending edged up 0.4% from the prior month, as per the U.S. consumer department.

For September, consumer spending is expected to rise as well given higher auto sales and, with the holiday season around the corner, it would likely remain bullish this year. The National Retail Federation predicted that U.S. holiday sales for the last two months of the year will grow 3.7%, higher than the 10-year average of 2.5% (read: Top Ranked Retail ETFs Wait for a Holiday Season Rally ).

Finally, rising consumer confidence bodes well for the sector. According to the business research group, Conference Board, the consumer confidence index increased to 103 in September after rising to 101.3 in August. The monthly reading was the highest since this January.

The bullish trend in consumer spending is not only a positive for the consumer discretionary sector but also for investors interested in this new ETF.

ETF Competition

Being a smart-beta ETF, JHMC definitely deserves attention. However, there are a number of popular consumer discretionary ETFs that are already on the investors' tracking list. Among them, the most popular are above mentioned XLY and First Trust Cnsmr Discret AlphaDEX ETF ( FXD ).

XLY tracks the S&P Consumer Discretionary Select Sector Index focusing on companies defined by the S&P 500 Composite Stock Index. The fund's top ten holdings comprise nearly the same stocks as that of JHMC. It has an impressive asset base of $10.7 billion.

On the other hand, FXD follows the StrataQuant Consumer Discretionary Index selecting stocks from the Russell 1000 Index that may generate positive alpha relative to traditional passive style indices. It manages an asset base of $2.4 billion.

Both XLY and FXD stand nearly at the same level in terms of yield, with XLY offering 1.4% and FXD offering 0.86%. However, on the cost front, XLY looks very attractive with only 15 bps in fees compared with a much higher annual fee of 70 bps for FXD (read: 3 Top-Ranked Consumer Discretionary ETFs on Fire ).

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JH-M-F CONS DIS (JHMC): ETF Research Reports

MANULIFE FINL (MFC): Free Stock Analysis Report

COMCAST CORP A (CMCSA): Free Stock Analysis Report

AMAZON.COM INC (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report

HOME DEPOT (HD): Free Stock Analysis Report

SPDR-CONS DISCR (XLY): ETF Research Reports

FT-CONSUMR DIS (FXD): ETF Research Reports

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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