Apple's (AAPL) - Get Report iPhone business has seen slowing growth in recent quarters, prompting concerns the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is destined for slow-growth in the future. However, if recent speculation that Apple is entering the car business is to be believed, the tech giant may have another enormous leg to stand on, boosting several ETFs in the process.
According to IBISWorld, the global car market is a $9 trillion industry, having recently experienced slightly more than 3% growth per annum. Sales of new cars around the globe are expected to reach 90 million units in 2016, according to research firm IHS.
At $9 trillion, it dawrfs the size of the global smartphone market; with 35% of new car sales expected to be electric by the year 2040, it provides electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers with significant opportunities.
The project, which has undergone some changes in recent months, may be shifting gears to focus more on software than actual hardware, with veteran exec Bob Mansfield returning to the company. The project may also be looking toward bringing in outside help, with the Financial Times reporting Apple was in talks with super car manufacturer McLaren about a tie-up, strategic investment or acquisition. The New York Times also recently reported Apple has discussed acquiring Lit Motors, which makes electric motorcycles.
"We're highly focused on the ability and willingness from a management perspective to pay back cash to shareholders," said Eric Ervin, CEO and co-founder of Reality Shares, highlighting Apple's $230 billion in gross cash on its balance sheet. "If you're in the tech business, you have to continue to innovate and that $230 billion warchest is going to go a long way towards that."
ETFs are a good way to take advantage of owning a stock and getting exposure to its upside, without actually owning the actual stock in isolation and the volatility that comes with it.
These three ETFs provide significant amounts of exposure to Apple and its future, but provide investors with more diversification and access to other tech companies.
Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund
The Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) - Get Report has one of the highest exposures to Apple among its portfolio, at just over 13%, but also offers a low expense ratio, with investors paying just 0.14%, one of the lowest among tech-focused ETFs.
Owning XLK may be a good idea to get Apple exposure. The iPhone 7 continues to see strong demand, which should help benefit its holiday season, said Cowen & Co. analyst Timothy Arcuri, raising his forecast to 73 million iPhones sold in the December quarter, up from 69.5 million.
"The change is primarily driven by strong demand for iPhone 7+ (up almost 40%) and ~2MM more iPhone 7 (up ~7%) that more than offset a cut in iPhone 6S (down ~30%) and iPhone 6S+ (down ~12%) units," Arcuri wrote in a note to clients. "Ergo, our checks indicate that iPhone mix is now skewed more toward the new builds (7+) that could provide upside to Street ASP assumptions."
This ETF is comprised of 75 large-cap technology companies and has over $13.3 billion in assets under management.
Vanguard Information Technology ETF
The Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT) - Get Report has Apple comprise 12.6% of its portfolio, but it also has 380 other tech stocks in its $9.7 billion portfolio, providing an enormous amount of diversification. With an expense ratio of just 0.10%, it's among the lowest in the industry.
Owning VGT may be a good way to get exposure to Apple's car efforts, which may help boost revenue down the line.
Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, along with some of his colleagues, believes Apple (among others) is likely to benefit from the rise of autonomous vehicles, in a group dubbed the The Shared Autonomous 30. "Apple and IBM were included for their skills in the relevant hardware/ecosystem," Jonas said in the note.
Fidelity MSCI Information Technology Index ETF
The $450 million Fidelity MSCI Information Technology Index ETF (FTEC) - Get Report also offers significant exposure to Apple, which comprises 12.56% of its portfolio. Like the Vanguard ETF, it too has a low expense ratio, at just 0.12%.
With Apple comprising so much of its portfolio, you get exposure to its strong cash flows, buybacks and dividends, all of which makes it attractive to Ervin. "[These factors] indicate just how healthy the business is," Ervin added. "Eventually, that cascades down to stock price."