Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Protecting Yourself from Apples Stock Price Slide

Zacks Investment Research reports the technology sector started 2012 on a strong note outperforming the S&P 500 index. But as the year progressed the sector went through major swings and somewhat lost its way. So much so that investors shifted their focus from technology to other, better performing sectors. Below are three great tech ETFs that avoid Apple.

Many technology-focused ETFs are fighting to hold on to its gains because of a big drop in Apple’s share price. These ETFs have a heavy exposure to the industry giant thus affecting their performance. In fact, their returns are arguably directly linked to the rise and fall of Apple.

The path of the stock, which dominates the holding of most of the tech ETFs, has been quite difficult since September, the time when it last touched the $700 mark. In fact Apple’s share price tumbled more than 28% from its all-time high and has definitely entered into a bear market phase.

Attributable to the recent downtrend in Apple’s share price, many tech focused ETFs have had a tough time, or at least have an uncertain outlook. The two ETFs which rely heavily on Apple are PowerShares (QQQ) and Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK). QQQ has invested more than 16% in the company while the company makes up nearly 17% in Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK).

In this scenario, investors who want to stay invested in the tech space but stay away from Apple will have to look beyond the giants of QQQ and XLK for other opportunities. For these investors, we have highlighted three great tech ETFs below that shun AAPL and could potentially be better picks if weakness in the firm persists:

iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index Fund (IGV)

This ETF provides exposure to companies specializing in software and thus avoids the hardware-focused Apple. The fund manages an asset base of $652.6 million.

With a total of 55 stocks, the fund has its top three holdings in Oracle, and Microsoft with a total share of 25.68%. The fund has a concentrated play in the top ten with total investment of more than 55%.

Large caps dominate the holding pattern with more than 50% of asset invested while a very small proportion of the asset base go towards mid caps and small caps. The fund charges a fee of 48 basis points annually. The fund delivered a return of 17% over a period of one year.

PowerShares S&P SmallCap Information Technology Portfolio (PSCT)

For those looking to cash in on a technology ETF providing exposure to small cap companies, PSCT can be a solid option. The fund offers up no exposure to the giant Apple, and instead zeroes in on pint sized securities.

The fund manages an asset base of $83.2 million which is invested in a basket of 126 small cap securities. The fund is not biased towards the top ten holdings with just 22% invested in these 10. Commvault System, Cymer Inc and 3D System take the top three positions in the fund.

The fund charges an expense ratio of 29 basis points annually and delivered a return of 9% over a period of one year.

iShares MSCI ACWI ex-US Information Technology Sector Index Fund (AXIT)

Investors seeking to invest in the technology space without any exposure to the Cupertino-based company can also look to invest beyond the U.S. AXIT is one of the ETFs which provides exposure to non-U.S. technology companies.

This ETF is home to 80 non-U.S. technology companies with its main focus on Japan, Taiwan and South Korean companies. The fund has in total 63.02% of the asset base invested in these three regions. Germany, China, Sweden, India, the Netherlands, U.K. and France are the other countries in which the fund allocates its asset base.

Among individual holdings, Samsung dominates the holding pattern with a 15.8% share in the asset base. Other than this, no other company gets a double-digit allocation in the top ten holdings. Despite international exposure, the fund does not appear to be expensive thereby charging a fee of 48 basis points annually.

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