The quality factor has been in the spotlight this year as a growing number of exchange traded funds focus on this investment factor. In fact, due to recent launches, the number of ETFs with an explicit emphasis on the quality has crossed 30 when including domestic and international funds.
While some of those offerings look compelling and could have bright futures ahead of them, a seasoned quality ETF continues to shine in its own right. To this point in Tuesday’s trading session, just over 20 ETFs have hit new all-time highs. One of those funds is the PowerShares S&P 500 High Quality Portfolio (NYSEArca: SPHQ).
SPHQ is now 9% this year, a performance that is nearly 100 basis points better than the S&P 500. SPHQ tracks the S&P 500 High Quality Rankings Index, which “is designed to provide exposure to the constituents of the S&P 500 Index that are identified as stocks reflecting long-term growth and stability of a company’s earnings and dividends,” according to PowerShares.
While the quality and value factors often appear together across various stocks and ETFs, that should not be interpreted to mean that all quality stocks and ETFs are discounted relative to the broader market. In the case of SPHQ, the ETF’s P/E ratio of 18.3 is slightly above that of the S&P 500.
That is due in part to the ETF’s 19% weight to consumer staples, its second-largest sector weight. While staples have done their job, proving resilient during the market pullback earlier this month, investors often pay up for the privilege of playing defense with this sector. Fortunately, the consumer staples sector is not overly stretched on valuation. Rather, it is modestly pricey relative to historical norms and sales growth is forecast to increase over the next year, indicating P/E multiples could expand, producing better earnings growth. [A Look at Staples ETFs]