Plenty of U.S. retailers are blaming harsh winter weather for disappointing quarterly results, but investors are not taking the bait.
There have been some retail standouts, Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN) and Tiffany (NYSE: TIF) come to mind, but overall, the industry and corresponding exchange traded funds have not impressed this year. Heading into Thursday, the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEArca: XRT) was down 6.2% year-to-date while the Market Vectors Retail ETF (NYSEArca: RTH) was lower by 4.2%. [Blizzard Whacks Retail ETFs]
An array of mid- and small-cap retailers have recently been experiencing significant punishment and those sell-offs have prompted weakening technical.
“What I see, however, are breakdowns all over retail, starting with the monster selloffs in Staples (NasdaqGS: SPLS) and PetSmart (NasdaqGS: PETM). Both of those stocks got clobbered on disappointing earnings releases this week in typical bear-market fashion. Bull markets may forgive transgressions, but bear markets punish any problems, perceived or real,” writes Michael Kahn for Barron’s.
Just this week, shares of PetSmart have plunged 14% while Staples is down 10.3%. As Barron’s notes, Urban Outfitters (NasdaqGS: URBN) is trading near two-year lows while Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS) is at 27-month low. Apparel and specialty retailers combine for 42.2% of XRT’s weight, perhaps explaining why investors have pulled almost $492 million from the ETF this year. [Retreating Retail ETFs]
XRT is far from the only offender among retail ETFs. RTH has been plagued by a combined 20% weight to Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN).
Shares of Dow component Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), the world’s largest retailer, are down 4.1% this, which looks good compared to the 23.4% lost by Amazon. That is enough to put the e-commerce giant in bear market territory. [Amazon a Problem for These ETFs]
Discretionary ETFs have also disappointed. For example, the Vanguard Consumer Discretionary ETF (NYSEArca: VCR) is down 3.1% and has lost $163.6 million in assets this year. Only five of VCR’s top-10 holdings, a group that combines for over 35% of the ETF’s weight, are up year-to-date.
Vanguard Consumer Discretionary ETF
Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of Amazon.