West Texas Intermediate futures have climbed 3.2% over the past week, contributing to the recent sturdiness of energy stocks and the relevant exchange traded funds after the sector was the worst performer in the S&P 500 last year.
Cost-conscious investors looking to participate in the energy sector’s rebound can turn to a familiar fund: The Vanguard Energy ETF (NYSEArca: VDE). After a recent fee-reduction, something Vanguard has become famous for, VDE has an annual expense ratio of 0.12%, tying it with the Fidelity MSCI Energy Index ETF (NYSEArca: FENY) for the title of least expensive energy ETF. [New Fee Cuts From Vanguard]
VDE “tracks an index of companies that cover a broad swath of the industry, from oil-rig builders and drill-equipment makers to oil refiners and transportation companies,” reports Kaitlin Pitsker for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
That is to say, like its rivals, VDE is heavily allocated to mega-cap integrated oil names, such as Dow components Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX). At the end of January, the two largest U.S. oil companies combined for 34.2% of VDE’s weight, according to issuer data.
In the current oil market environment, sticking with the sector’s steadier hands is advisable.
Shares of mega-cap oil names “tend to hold up better than the overall sector, in part because they operate across the many segments of the industry. As a result, the ETF has been 21% less volatile than its peers over the past three years,” according to Kiplinger’s.