Energy ETF's Recent Slide Isn't Unfamiliar

With oil prices continuing to reside near 12-year lows, pressure is mounting on equity-based energy exchange traded funds such as the Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE). XLE, the largest equity-based energy, fell more than 2% Wednesday on its way to a 52-week low.

Last year, Exxon and Chevron, which currently combine for 35 percent of XLE’s weight, were two of the worst-performing stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, helping make XLE the worst performer among the nine sector SPDR ETFs.

Bright spots have been few and far between for equity-based energy exchange traded funds this year and for all the struggles the encountered by the sector, it still is not inexpensive relative to the S&P 500. In fact, the energy patch is downright pricey compared to the broader market. This after a spate of spending cuts that have not been met with widespread enthusiasm among investors. [Oil ETF Dividends Appear Safe…Sort Of]

In terms of XLE’s price action, it is worth noting the ETF, which debuted in mid-1998, has been down similar roads in the past. For example, Schaeffer’s Investment Research notes that when XLE peaked around $90 in 2008, the ETF proceeded to lose half those gains, falling to $45 in just a few months. That scenario replayed with XLE’s most recent peak. XLE’s 2014 peak around $100 has been followed by a quick 50% retracement, last seen at $50.78, according to Schaeffer’s.