Bronze Medal Race for Sector ETF Supremacy

By a wide margin, the Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF) is the largest sector exchange traded fund. With $15.3 billion in assets under management, XLF is nearly 20% larger than the Technology Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLK).

And XLK is far larger by assets than the third-largest sector fund, but is in the bronze medal race for sector ETF heft that things start to get interesting. [XLF Races for Third Place for ETF Inflows]

That is where the Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE) and the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLV) are tussling. XLE has nearly $8.4 billion in assets while XLV has $7.9 billion. XLV, which allocates a combined 28% of its weight to Dow components Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Pfizer and Merck (NYSE: MRK) is making progress in the race for third against XLE. [Slide Show: Major Sector ETFs]

While both ETFs have seen positive inflow this year, XLV has raked in almost $478 million compared to $416.7 million for XLE. What is interesting is that it has taken so long for XLV to be in position to take the third spot from XLE. Over the past five years, XLE is up an impressive 72.7%, but XLV has doubled.

Over the past year and two years, XLV has maintained impressive margins of out-performance over its energy rival, though to be fair, direct comparisons of energy and health care ETFs are not exactly apples-to-apples.

XLE is even more top-heavy than XLV with Dow components Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX) combine for about 29% of the ETF’s weight.