There are a few certainties regarding the current state of affairs in the energy sector. First, even with some recent upside, the sector is still beaten up.
Second, even with oil’s slide and the corresponding downside for energy equities, the sector is far from a bargain on a price-to-earnings basis. Profit estimates have fallen so dramatically that the energy sector’s P/E has been pushed higher, making it the most expensive sector relative to the S&P 500. [Optimism for a big Energy ETF]
There are value opportunities with energy ETFs, including with the oft-overlooked iShares MSCI Global Energy Producers ETF (NYSEArca: FILL). FILL is three years old, has $21.7 million in assets under management and allocates 47% of its weight to non-U.S. energy giants. Said another way, nearly half of FILL’s weight does not reside in the rival Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE) and that could be a source of more attractive valuations for FILL.
“We prefer measures such price-to-book value, which reflects many years of retained earnings rather than a single year’s fortune (or misfortune). For example, firms in FILL now trade at a forward price-to-book value multiple of 1.15x, compared with an average of 1.44x since inception in February 2012,” said AltaVista Research in a new research note. “This leads to the opposite conclusion of the P/E analysis above—namely that stocks are cheaper than usual. In any case, with think the real selling point for FILL is that its constituents enjoy increasingly attractive valuations relative to those in XLE, no matter what valuation metric one examines.”
FILL’s international exposure provides another advantage: A higher dividend yield than its U.S.-focused counterparts. The ETF’s trailing 12-month yield of 2.58% is 43 basis points higher than the yield on its family member, the iShares U.S. Energy ETF (NYSEArca: IYE).