No Surprise: Amazon is Important to Discretionary ETFs

Traditional cap-weighted consumer discretionary exchange traded funds, such as the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLY), are usually dominated by shares of (NASDAQ: AMZN).

For example, XLY, the the largest exchange traded fund tracking the consumer discretionary sector, devotes almost 22% of its weight to Amazon, or more than triple the weight the ETF assigns to its second-largest holding. In other words, Amazon’s price action is a big deal for many consumer discretionary ETFs.

“It’s not surprising that consumer discretionary is doing well, since one fifth of the sector is (AMZN), one of the most popular blue-chip stocks that has surged 35% since the beginning of the year. If we take out the e-commerce/tech behemoth, consumer discretionary has actually dropped 4.6% this year, not much better than the other retail sector, consumer staples,” reports Evie Liu for Barron’s.

Life Without Amazon

As that data point confirms, consumer discretionary ETFs would be disappointing this year if Amazon was not part of the sector.

“Morgan Stanley’s Gutman wrote that retailers’ ROIC and earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) margin have been consistently declining over the past five years, despite their improved capital discipline and moderate expansion,” according to Barron’s.

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