Similarly, Fidelity and iShares could follow a special dividend approach as they have Fidelity MSCI Telecommunications Index (FCOM) and iShares Global Telecom (IXP), respectively, which own just telecom services stocks.
CFRA expects the constituents to change for Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) and Guggenheim S&P 500 Equal Weight Information Technology (RYT) at the end of September 2018. Both track an index being reconfigured and would no longer hold EA, FB or GOOGL. However, neither firm offers a standalone telecom services sector ETF. Rather, telecom stocks are smaller weightings in other sector-oriented ETFs.
Indeed, despite its name, SPDR S&P Telecom (XTL) has 60% in technology stocks, including Arista Networks (ANET) and Netgear (NTGR), communications equipment companies not being moved as part of the GICS changes. Meanwhile, Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) holds T, VZ and CTL, but approximately 90% of the assets are in S&P 500 technology stocks, including AAPL, FB, GOOGL and MSFT.
These pending changes to sector funds highlight the importance of understanding what’s inside a portfolio, not just the performance record. This is how CFRA rates ETFs and mutual funds, leveraging our stock research capabilities for our holdings-level analysis. Starting in October 2018, investors who choose ETFs based only on past performance will be “buying” invalid performance, since many of the underlying holdings will change to align with the new GICS roadmap. An investor who studies underlying holdings will be a better-informed investor. For investors who chase past performance, CFRA has a word of caution: Buyer beware.
Todd Rosenbluth is Director of ETF & Mutual Fund Research at CFRA.