ETF Trends
ETF Trends

No matter the day, week or year, there will be a pundit or two or more telling investors “this is a stock picker’s market.”

There are times when that is the case, but as highlighted by the failures of many active equity managers relative to passively managed exchange traded funds, stock picking is difficult. That will not stop advisors and managers from searching for various sector leaders, but a new ETF is designed to specifically solve the problem of identifying a sector’s strongest names.

The ALPS Sector Leaders ETF (NYSEArca: SLDR) debuted today and is a factor-driven ETF with an emphasis on growth and quality. SLDR has a “High Conviction Tilt Towards Quality and Growth: provides a high quality overlay, from which the 5 highest growth securities are selected from each of 9 sectors of the market,” according to ALPS.

As ALPS does with the popular ALPS Sector Dividend Dogs ETF (NYSEArca: SDOG), the issuer applies equal weighting at both the sector and individual holding levels with SLDR. The new ETF tracks the S-Network Sector Leaders Index, which is home to 45 stocks with a weighted average market value of $45 billion. Nearly 78% of the new ETF’s holdings are large-caps and the rest are mid-caps, according to issuer data.

The index’s sector weights are 11.11% each across nine sectors. Telecom is not included. SLDR’s underlying index takes five stocks from the nine sectors.

“Rather than investing in pure market-cap indexes, which are usually tilted towards specific sectors, our equal sector weighting methodology may provide a better foundation for building diversified portfolios,” said ALPS Senior Vice President and Director of Exchange Traded Funds in a statement. “As a result, investors and advisors may achieve better risk adjusted returns.”

As for growth, yes, SLDR has that. Just look at the ETF’s consumer discretionary holdings, which include Priceline (NasdaqGS: PCLN) and Chipotle (NYSE: CMG). Or its consumer staples holdings, which represent a departure from the staples names that dot so many ETFs. SLDR’s staples constituents include Whole Foods (NasdaqGS: WFM) and Keurig Green Mountain (NasdaqGS: GMCR). [Dancing Dow Dogs to Start 2015]

SLDR’s healthcare holdings are equally as compelling. Eschewing blue chip pharmaceuticals names, the new ETF’s five healthcare constituents are comprised of three biotechs, Cigna (NYSE: CI) and Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE: EW).

While SLDR is obviously in its infancy, the new ETF has potential to deliver outperformance for investors. Consider the following: Over the past three years, the S-Network Sector Leaders Index sported EPS growth of 135.5% compared to 56% for the S&P 500, according to ALPS data. Additionally, the index’s debt-to-equity ratio of 54.4% was nearly 2,400 basis points below the S&P 500’s over that time.

Chart Courtesy: ALPS