With healthcare stocks and exchange traded funds hitting new highs on almost daily basis, it is easy for some of the group’s smaller members to get lost in the shuffle.
It is also easy for investors to devote their attention to U.S.-focused healthcare ETFs, such as the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLV). That strategy is hard to criticize a day after nearly 30 healthcare ETFs were found among the roughly 200 ETFs making all-time highs.
However, investors looking to broaden their healthcare exposure filling out the international parts of their portfolios should consider the SPDR S&P International Health Care Sector ETF (NYSEArca: IRY). Unheralded among the sector’s ETFs, IRY was one of the healthcare funds touch all-time highs on Wednesday, extending its year-to-date gain to 9.6%. That is 380 basis points better than XLV. [More Upside for Healthcare ETFs]
While IRY is framed as an international fund, and it is, a global health care ETF is bound to be somewhat Europe heavy and IRY obliges. With Europe ETFs ranking among the more attractive developed market plays to start 2015, IRY has benefited.
While IRY is not a currency hedged ETF, it is exposed to the strong dollar theme because several of the fund’s major holdings derive a substantial portion of their revenue from the U.S. That allows the companies to repatriate strong dollars into the weaker local currency, including euros and francs, thereby buying more of the home currency. [Two Reasons to Like This ETF]
Switzerland, Japan and the U.K. combine for about 56% of IRY’s weight. Swiss pharma giants Novartis (NYSE: NVS) and Roche, IRY’s two largest holdings at a combined 20% of the ETF’s weight, garner nearly all of their sales from outside Switzerland, including significant sales in the U.S.