ETFs Look for Boost From Apple's Earnings

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Last week, technology-hungry investors were treated to a deluge of news as household names including IBM (IBM), Intel (INTC), Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG) stepped up to the earnings plate to report their quarterly performance numbers and provide guidance for the months ahead.

The showing was mixed: While IBM, Intel, and Microsoft managed to please the markets, Google's sub-par showing doused any optimism with cold water.

This week, the tech-related festivities will continue. Today is particularly important as Apple ( AAPL) will take to the stage to report its fiscal first-quarter earnings.

An exciting event for stock pickers, ETF investors should also keep a close watch on Apple's performance. Given the firm's size and influence, its showing will heavily impact a wide collection of popular products.

It has been an interesting and trying few months for the Cupertino, California-based consumer technology giant. In today's disclosure, investors, tech fans, and consumers around the globe will discover not only how the company fared over the tumultuous past three months, but also how Tim Cook has handled his new role as CEO following the passing of Apple's iconic and charismatic founder, Steve Jobs.

Despite its challenges, Apple has seen some impressive strength during the waning days of 2011 and opening weeks of 2012. In addition to brushing against the $400 billion market cap, the company's stock price has managed to lock in all-time highs. The firm continues to face off against Exxon Mobil ( XOM) for the title of largest public U.S. Company by market valuation.

Given this showing, it is understandable that many market forecasters appear optimistic heading into the report. Analysts are predicting a standout quarter for the firm, helped greatly by the introduction of the iPhone4S. A strong showing would be welcomed; in the previous quarter the firm failed to meet analyst expectations.

Broad-based technology ETFs like the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Technology Sector Index Fund ( IYW), the Technology Select Sector SPDR ( XLK), and the PowerShares QQQ ( QQQ) will be most heavily influenced by the tech giant's earnings. All three of these funds list Apple as their largest position. The company accounts for over 16% of IYW; 15% of XLK; and 14% of QQQ.

As with other earnings-related plays, conservative ETF investors who do not already own shares of the funds listed above would be best off waiting on the sidelines until after Apple releases its statement.

Knee-jerk reactions can be steep, especially for a company as closely watched as Apple. Investors learned this the hard way last quarter. Following the firm's miss, shares dove 6% in after-hours trading. Thanks to their top-heaviness, any fluctuation from Apple will noticeably impact the performance of QQQ, XLK, and IYW.

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement surrounding a company as popular as Apple. However, when it comes to constructing a strong, long-term portfolio, investors must make an effort to avoid letting their emotions drive their investing decisions. Let initial reactions cool before testing these waters.

Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

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At the time of publication, Dion Money Management owned PowerShares QQQ.

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