NEW YORK (TheStreet) - The recovery of the consumer is a trend I will be watching closely as we approach the close of 2010 and prepare for the New Year.
Although economic turmoil persists across many regions of the globe including Europe and Asia, conditions are improving in the U.S. and investors are continuing to take cautious steps back into the marketplace.
Over the past few weeks I have highlighted a handful of ways ETF investors can take advantage of the ongoing consumer resurgence. Products such SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT), PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage Fund (PBJ) and First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index Fund (FDN) tap into specific consumer-oriented slices of the market and will therefore be positively affected as individuals begin to once again treat themselves to small luxuries.
The performance of these three funds throughout 2010 helps to highlight the ongoing recovery. All three of these three funds have gained over 25% throughout the year, handedly outperforming the broader S&P 500.While each fund provides an effective way to follow the consumer to strength, they may not be ideal for all investors. For instance, although all three are heavily influenced by the consumer, the indexes underlying FDN, XRT, and PBJ are narrowly focused. By honing in on such a small aspect of the broader market, these funds tend to behave more volatile than products which cast a wider net on the consumer. Conservative investors with a lesser tolerance for risk may be put off by the pronounced day-to-day movement which can be seen from these products. For these investors, an ETF or mutual fund which takes a broader approach to consumers may be a more appropriate option. The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Consumer Services Index Fund (IYC) and the Fidelity Select Consumer Discretionary Fund (FSCPX) are two funds which achieve this task. By tracking a diverse collection of consumer-oriented companies, IYC and FSCPX combine the strengths of PBJ, FDN, and XRT under one roof. For instance, with Wal-Mart (WMT), McDonalds (MCD), Disney (DIS) and Amazon (AMZN) included among the fund's top five positions, investors holding IYC immediately gain exposure to the retail, restaurant, media, and internet industries. The similar case can be made for FSCPX. The fund's top five positions include MCD, Lowes (LOW), DIS, AMZN, and Target (TGT).
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