Oil is in rally mode. Broad U.S. equity benchmarks hit intraday all-time highs on Thursday. Nearly 40 exchange traded funds also hit record highs yesterday.
One of Thursday’s members of the ETF all-time high club was the Guggenheim Defensive Equity Index ETF (NYSEArca: DEF). Considering its name, it is arguably an anomaly that DEF has been consistently printing record highs in recent weeks. Upon deeper examination, it is clear that is not ultra-defensive.
DEF, which charges 0.65% per year, tracks the Sabrient Defensive Equity Index. That index allows for the inclusion of American depositary receipts, giving the ETF some international exposure as well. A fair amount of the ETF’s 103 holdings, none of which account for more than 1.97% of the fund’s weight, are emerging markets stocks. [New Highs for Defensive ETF]
Roughly 10% of DEF’s holdings are emerging markets stocks, including four of the ETF’s top 10 holdings. Three of those four are Chinese stocks, helping explain DEF’s recent bullishness and all three reside in the iShares China Large-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: FXI). FXI’s 20.6% gain over the past month has helped drag DEF higher by 2.5% over the same period. [China ETF’s Still Attractive]
Even with its decent international exposure, which also includes ex-U.S. developed markets, DEF does have many of the trimmings conservative, defensive investors are looking for. DEF’s largest sector weight is 27.7% to financial services, but the ETF gets highly defensive from there as utilities, telecom and consumer staples are the fund’s next three sector allocations, combining for about 48% of the ETF’s weight.