Amid a notable resurgence, the financial services sector is getting plenty of headlines. Many of the ETFs tracking the sector explain why. For example, the Oppenheimer Financials Sector Revenue ETF (NYSEArca: RWW) is up 3.5% this month, pushing its year-to-date gain to over 11%.
RWW is not the usual financial services ETF, which weigh stocks by market value. The Oppenheimer ETF provides exposure to the stocks in the S&P 500 Financials Index on a revenue-weighted basis. As a revenue-weighted ETF, RWW allocates 15.6% of its weight to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B), one of the largest weights to Berkshire among any ETF.
Including Berkshire, RWW’s top 10 holdings include four insurance providers, two investment banks and four money center banks. Other well-known names in the ETF’s top 10 holdings include Dow components JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS).
Although the Fed has raised interest rates twice this year with another rate hike likely coming before the end of 2017, there are concerns about the central bank’s dovish tone and its impact on ETFs such as RWW. It is expected the Fed will boost borrowing costs one more time before the end of this year and that as many as three rate hikes could be on tap for 2018.
Looking ahead, analysts project U.S. bank earnings to expand 12.8% in 2018, and BlackRock sees “scope for this number to improve.” Furthermore, the sector is trading at cheap valuations, with U.S. banks discounted by24% compared to 5% for European banks.
Some strategists also argue that the financial sector may be a good area to look at this time around, given the potential for growth in a rising rate environment, along with potential tax and regulatory changes under the Donald Trump administration. After failing on the healthcare front, Congressional Republicans are likely to push forward with tax reform, looking to make that the centerpiece of their 2017 legislative accomplishments.
Interest rate concerns are evident following recent commentary from some big-name bank executives. Additionally, analysts have been reining in second-quarter earnings estimates for large banks, based in large part on declining net interest margins. However, financial services is widely seen as one of the few legitimate value opportunities in the U.S. equity market.
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The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.