In the absence of an appropriate pure play option, auto hungry ETF investors have been focused to direct their attention towards proxy products.
With over 12% of its portfolio dedicated to companies related to the automotive industry, a fund like the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) may be appealing. Rather than targeting car markets, XRT's auto exposure is spread across retailers including Group 1 Automotive (GPI) and Pep Boys (PBY). The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Consumer Goods Index Fund (IYK) is another product to consider. The 9% slice of IYK dedicated to the auto industry includes both automotive retailers and car manufacturers.
Precious metals may not be the most obvious choice for investors looking for exposure to the car industry, but funds like the ETFS Physical Palladium Shares (PALL) and the ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (PPLT) are two additional funds auto bulls may want to keep in mind. These two shiny metals are used extensively in the production of catalytic converters, and will therefore be in a position to benefit as vehicles continue to roll off the lots.
Ultimately, however, the best way for investors to gain comprehensive exposure to the recovering global auto industry at this time is not through ETFs, but rather using a mutual fund. In an attempt to provide investors with one stop shop exposure to this sector, Michael Weaver, the portfolio manager behind the Fidelity Select Automotive Fund (FSAVX), has compiled a collection of nearly 40 companies, representing both car manufactures and auto parts suppliers. Companies including Ford, Toyota, TRW Automotive Holdings (TRW), and Johnson Controls (JCI) are among the fund's largest positions.With well over 1,000 products available, investors can typically turn to ETFs in order to satisfy nearly any portfolio need. However, as evidenced by the limited availability of adequately liquid automotive-focused products, there are still areas where this universe can expand. Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.