Last year, the PowerShares QQQ (NasdaqGM: QQQ), the NASDAQ-100 tracking ETF, climbed 19.2%, easily outpacing the 13.5% returned by the S&P 500.
Judging by investors’ treatment of QQQ, one might be apt to think the ETF tumbled. Many investors missed out on QQQ’s stellar 2014 showing as they pulled $11.2 billion from the fund. To be fair, QQQ was not the only victim of investors’ reluctance to embrace tech ETFs in 2014. The Technology Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLK), the largest technology sector ETF, soared nearly 18% last year even as investors pulled $1.5 billion from that fund. [Apple ETFs Quiet Ahead of Earnings]
Outflows do not mean investors should continue turning their backs on QQQ, which is still home to $38.2 billion in assets, enough to keep it residing among the largest ETFs in the world.
QQQ has “than 87% of assets invested in large-cap companies and more than 93% of assets invested in companies with Morningstar Economic Moat Ratings, those that Morningstar’s equity analysts deem as having sustainable competitive advantages,” according to a recent note by Morningstar.
QQQ is still tech heavy with nearly 58% of its weight devoted to the largest S&P 500 sector, but that is down slightly from the almost 60% the ETF allocated to tech at the height of the tech/Internet bubble in late 1999. That is to say QQQ has evolved and arguably changed for the better. For example, the ETF’s health care exposure has more than doubled to 15.5% today from around 6% in 1999. [QQQ Evolves for the Better]
Rising tech spending thanks to an improving U.S. economy is another fundamental factor in QQQ’s favor.
“Broadly, we are confident in tech firms’ positioning for growth in the medium term. Tech firms generally are procyclical in their performance, and with continued economic strength, tech firms generally should do well. The Gartner Group estimates that tech spending grew 3.2% in 2014, measured in constant currency, to $3.8 trillion and forecasts a growth rate of 3.2% in 2015. As large tech firms manage and reshape their businesses to adapt to secular declines in PC demand, we expect that they will continue to find ways to benefit from smartphone and tablet growth,” notes Morningstar.