The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: ETF SPDR S&P 500 ETF, Guggenheim Spin-Off ETF, PowerShares Dynamic Leisure & Entertainment ETF, First Trust US IPO Index Fund and Moody's

Jul 15, 2013, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, July 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include ETF SPDR S&P 500 ETF (AMEX: SPY-Free Report), Guggenheim Spin-Off ETF (AMEX: CSD-Free Report), PowerShares Dynamic Leisure & Entertainment ETF (AMEX: PEJ-Free Report), First Trust US IPO Index Fund (AMEX: FPX-Free Report) and Moody's Corp. (NYSE: MCO-Free Report).


Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

3 Unknown ETFs that Continue to Crush SPY

The ETF industry continues to grow exponentially and evolve. Total assets in US listed ETFs are close to $1.5 trillion, while the number of products is more than 1,480 now. However, the industry continues to be top-heavy. 

The largest ETF SPDR S&P 500 ETF (AMEX: SPY-Free Report) now has more than $145 billion in AUM, while products in next three spots--Vanguard Emerging Markets ETF (VWO), iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV), iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA)--each have more than $40 billion in assets.  Top 10 funds hold almost 30% of total industry assets.

Most investors continue to pour money into bigger, widely known ETFs, even though sponsors continue to struggle to come up with new, different types of products. Some of these 'niche' products are forced to shutter their doors due to lack of investor interest.

Larger ETFs are usually more popular with investors as most of them follow the simpler market cap weight methodology, often have lower expense ratios and ample liquidity. (Read: Buy these ETFs for brighter insurance sector outlook)

At the same time, investors should not ignore some of the ETFs that try to outperform by selecting stocks using 'better' or 'enhanced' index methodologies or focus on some 'niche' strategies that are otherwise not available to retail investors. Some such ETFs have been outstanding performers and are expected continue their excellent performance going forward as well.

Below we present three such ETFs that have outperformed the broader market year-to-date as well as over one year and three year periods. But they remain rather unknown due to lack of investor interest.


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Spin higher profits with Guggenheim Spin-Off ETF (AMEX: CSD-Free Report)

Research shows that spun-off entities generally outperform their parents and the broader market. They typically underperform in the first few weeks of trading--presumably due to selling by institutional investors, but they recover nicely subsequently and outperform by 22% in the first year.

One of the reasons could be that investors prefer focused smaller companies more than bigger diversified ones. (Read: QE Tapering could make these bond ETFs winners)

CSD tracks the Beacon Spin-off Index that includes companies that have been spun-off within the past 30 months but not more recently than six months prior to the applicable rebalancing date. Index constituents are primarily small- and mid-cap companies.

The index is comprised of up to 40 highest-ranking stocks selected from a universe of spun-off companies, using a quantitative rules based methodology.  Each stock is given a modified market cap weighting with a maximum weight of 5%, resulting in a pretty diversified basket. The index is rebalanced semi- annually.

The product currently holds 27 securities in its basket, with an average market cap of just $5.9 million.

Top holdings include Exelis Inc., Lumos Networks and Marriott Vacations. In terms of sector allocations, Energy (23.4%), Industrials (20.9%) and Consumer Discretionary (20.4%) occupy the top three spots.

The fund charges an expense ratio of 60 basis points annually. (Read: Winning Strategies for the second half)

Consumer Strength works great for PowerShares Dynamic Leisure & Entertainment ETF (AMEX: PEJ-Free Report)

Consumer cyclical sectors are among a few sectors that are expected to maintain a positive earnings growth for the second quarter.  And this comes as no surprise as consumer confidence remains near multi-year high and consumer spending has remained resilient despite sluggish economic growth.

Consumer discretionary and retail stocks have been doing pretty well in recent months as the labor market showed clear signs of healing. Further, rising housing market and surging stock market added to the "wealth effect", resulted in rising consumer confidence. Leisure and Entertainment sub-sector within this space is also likely to benefit from the summer travel/holiday season.

Launched in June 2005, PEJ the tracks Dynamic Leisure and Entertainment Intellidex Index.

The index is comprised of 30 US leisure and entertainment companies selected on the basis of a variety of investment merit criteria, including: price momentum, earnings momentum, quality, management action, and value.

Top holdings include Liberty Media, Starbucks, Scripps Network, Time Warner and Walt Disney. Restaurants (30%), Movies and Entertainment (21%) and Hotels, Resorts & Cruise lines (18%) are the top sub-industries that the product is exposed to.

The fund charges fees of 63 basis points per year.

First Trust US IPO Index Fund (AMEX: FPX-Free Report)—A Play on the Red-Hot IPO Market

The IPO market has been extremely hot this year, especially in the second quarter—when a combined $13.1 billion was raised. The number of IPOs surged to 62 during the second quarter, almost double from year-ago levels and it appears that the strong momentum will continue in the second half of the year.

One of the most successful IPOs this year was by Noodles & Company, a fast-casual restaurant chain, which saw its shares surge more than 100% on the first day of trading.

FPX provides a low-risk and convenient way to profit from the US IPO market resurgence.

The product tracks the IPOX-100 U.S. Index, which is modified value-weighted price index measuring the performance of 100 largest, typically best performing and most liquid U.S. IPOs.

Currently, the product has a nice mix of sectors, with top four being Consumer Discretionary, Energy, Healthcare and Technology. In terms of individual holdings, AbbVie, General Motors and Facebook take the top three spots.  

Moody's Upgraded to Strong Buy

On Jul 11, 2013, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Moody's Corp. (NYSE: MCO-Free Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). With a strong return of 70.4% over the past one year and a positive estimate revision trend, Moody's is an attractive investment opportunity.

Why the Upgrade?

Upbeat first quarter results, strength in new domestic debt issuance and improving clarity over regulatory climate in Europe contributed to the upgrade. Moody's remains a solid franchise in rating debt instruments based on its diversified credit research business model and international growth opportunities.

Moody's reported first quarter earnings of 97 cents per share that were well ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 87 cents. However, including litigation expenses of 14 cents, earnings were 83 cents per share,  up 9.0% from the year-ago quarter.

Revenues surged 13.0% year over year to $731.8 million and exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $718.0 million. Domestic revenues soared 18.0% year over year to $406.1 million in the reported quarter. International revenues increased 8.0% year over year to $325.7 million in the quarter.

Moody's expects 2013 revenues to grow in the high single-digit percent range. Operating expenses are projected to increase in the mid-single digit percent range. Operating margin is projected to be between 41% and 42%. Earnings for 2013 are expected to be in the range of $3.49 to $3.59 per share.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2013 increased 2.6% to $3.58 per share as most of the estimates were revised higher over the last 90 days. The current estimate is within the guidance range provided by Moody's. For fiscal 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate increased 2.4% to $3.90 per share.

The long-term expected earnings growth rate for Moody's is 13.9%.

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