October is nearly half in the books and although stocks have had a decent showing this month with the S&P 500 up nearly 1%, it is not a bad thing that October will some being coming to a close. After all, this is the last month in the worst six-month cycle for stocks.
One group of sector ETFs holds promise heading into November: Materials. Over the past three months, the Materials Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLB) has 7.8%. That is the best performance among the nine sector SPDR ETFs.
XLB and other large-cap materials ETFs have rallied in recent months in part because some of the ETFs’ holdings have drown the interest of activist investors. In July, it was reported that hedge fund manager Nelson Peltz, founder of Trian Fund Management, had amassed a sizable position in Dow component DuPont (NYSE: DD). [Peltz Lifts XLB, but not XLP]
A similar rumor pertaining to Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW), the largest U.S. chemical maker, surfaced in August and Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital recently unveiled a $2.2 billion stake in Air Products (NYSEArca: APD). Those three stocks combine for 23.6% of XLB’s weight. [Materials ETF Could Get Another Activist Jolt]
XLB may not need the help of activist investors once the calendar turns to November. The reason: XLB is the top-performing SPDR in the eleventh month of the year since the sector SPDRs came to market, according to CXO Advisory. The first November XLB traded in was 1999 following a December 1998 debut.
Interestingly, over the past six months XLB is merely the seventh most-correlated SPDR to the S&P 500, according to State Street data. Over the past three years, it is the least with a correlation of 0.74.