As measured by the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP), 2014 has been another decent year for the consumer staples sector, the sixth-largest sector weight in the S&P 500.
XLP, the larges consumer staples ETF by assets, is up 15.7% year-to-date, placing it fourth among the nine sector SPDR ETFs. The backbone of XLP and other traditional consumer staples ETFs is often large weights to beloved, familiar, large-cap stocks such as Dow components Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT).
Thanks to the rapid expansion of strategic beta ETFs, investors have an increasing number of options for taking different, more growth-driven approaches to the prosaic and defensive staples sector. One such option is the $2.1 billion First Trust Consumer Staples AlphaDEX Fund (NYSEArca: FXG). [Smart Beta ETFs Keep Gaining Traction]
FXG, which is seven and a half years old, carries a five-star Morningstar rating. Importantly, the ETF is up nearly 21% year-to-date, making it 2014’s top-performing consumer staples ETF. [Bright Strategic Beta ETFs]
FXG has shined among staples ETFs without large weights to the sectors usual suspects. For example, the only member of FXG’s top-10 lineup that frequently appears among the top holdings in cap-weighted staples ETFs is CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS). Procter & Gamble and Coca Cola combine for just 2.7% of FXG’s weight while Wal-Mart is not a member of the ETF’s roster.
While more goes into First Trust’s AlphaDEX series than an emphasis on smaller stocks or value names, the median market value of FXG’s 37 holdings is just $16.8 billion, which is significantly lower than cap-weighted staples ETFs.