Broadly speaking, the technology sector has performed well this year. Quite well, actually, with a year-to-date gain of 47% as of Nov. 1, but the issue faced by some large technology exchange traded funds is significant allocations to the sector ‘s dogs.
That roster includes under-performing Apple (NasdaqGM: AAPL) and Dow component International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM). Heading into Friday, shares of Apple were down almost 6.7% since the start of the year while IBM was lower by more than 8%. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) was up nearly 20%. [Usual Suspects Haven’t Helped Tech ETFs Much]
Slack performances by some of the most venerable and largest tech names have not derailed big tech ETFs. At least not too much. The Vanguard Information Technology ETF (NYSEArca: VGT) is up nearly 21% this year and VGT, along with rivals such as the Technology Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLK), are positioned to benefit from the proliferation of mobile and cloud computing. [Slideshow: Major Sector ETFs]
“VGT has a very high-quality portfolio–wide-moat and narrow-moat firms account for about 51.5% and 31% of the portfolio, respectively, meaning that Morningstar’s equity analysts believe that more than 82% of VGT’s assets are invested in firms with sustainable competitive advantages,” said Morningstar analyst Robert Goldsborough in a note.
Goldsborough points out that VGK, which has a tiny 0.14% annual expense ratio, “devotes more than 22% of its assets to small- and mid-cap tech companies, while XLK invests just 9% of its assets in small- and mid-cap firms.”
Still, VGT does not offer a substantial buffer from this year’s tech laggards. Apple and IBM combined for 19.1% of the fund’s weight at the end of September. Oracle (NYSE: ORCL), a stock that is down this year, and Qualcomm (NasdaqGM: QXOM), up just 3.6%, combine for 7.1% of VGT’s weight, according to Vanguard data.