Unprecedented market volatility calls for specialized, industry-specific knowledge.
The Consumer Staples, Health Care, and Software & Services sectors offer opportunities that could be beneficial in the current market downturn.
Investors may favor Consumer Staples stocks for their noncyclical business allocation when seeking limited downside risk in their equity exposures. According to our analysis of sector performance over business cycles, Consumer Staples stocks outperformed the broader market an average of 14% during six of seven recession periods, and 4% during eight of 11 economic slowdowns.1
To add defensive positioning and build resilience for equity portfolios, consider an allocation to Consumer Staples through the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLP).
2. Health Care: Increasing demand with reduced political headwinds
Investor concerns over political headwinds, including “Medicare for All” proposed by progressive Democratic Party candidates, compressed relative forward price-to-earnings for Health Care Services companies two standard deviations below its 10-year average over the past one-year period.2
However, this political overhang is abating as the moderate candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, emerged as the Democratic Party frontrunner after Super Tuesday. Biden’s plan of expanding the Affordable Care Act would be much less disruptive to the Health Care business model and profitability than Medicare for All and relieves pressure on industry valuations.
To combat the coronavirus pandemic, we are likely to see increasing demand and government spending on Health Care Services, including lab testing, pharmaceutical benefits, and health care facilities. While analysts have been slashing the earnings estimates of the broader market since the outbreak of COVID-19, earnings prospects in the Health Care sector and Health Care Services industry remain solid and are expected to outpace the broader market in 2020, as shown in the chart below.
Source: FactSet, as of 3/18/2020. Earnings-per-share growth estimates are based on Consensus Analyst Estimates compiled by FactSet.
To benefit from increasing demand and improved political sentiment in Health Care stocks with attractive valuations, consider the SPDR S&P Health Care Services ETF (XHS), which has a targeted exposure to the Health Care Services industry with a broad Health Care sector exposure.
3. Software & Services: Secular growth and attractive valuations
Software & Services stocks are under pressure, down by more than 30%, and underperforming the broad market by nearly 9% year to date.3 The chart below shows the relative valuations of Software & Services stocks, which are now below their 10-year medians, based on forward price-to-earnings and price-to-sales ratios.
Source: FactSet, as of 3/17/2020. Characteristics are as of the date indicated, are subject to change, and should not be relied upon as current thereafter.
However, demand for home entertainment and education software is likely to increase as people all over the world practice social distancing and stay at home. Additionally, as more businesses adopt a remote-work strategy as part of their business continuity plans, their reliance on cloud-based infrastructure services and system software will fuel demand for cloud-based enterprise solutions.
Although the pandemic is creating a more uncertain macroeconomic environment for Software & Services companies, their strong balance sheets and high-profit margins may help cushion temporary economic shocks. The pandemic might also expedite the shift to cloud-based software solutions for many firms and send the industry growth of Software & Services companies on a growth trajectory path.
To position for the increasing demand for remote work and home entertainment software solutions, consider an allocation to Software & Services companies in the SPDR S&P Software & Services ETF (XSW).
To learn more about emerging sector investing opportunities, visit our dedicated sectors webpage.
1 Sector Business Cycle Analysis, Matthew Bartolini, Anqi Dong, SPDR Research, 2020.
2 FactSet, as of 3/18/2020.
3 FactSet, for the period from February 20th to March 18th 2020. The industry is represented by the S&P Software & Services Select Industry Index.
S&P 500 Index: The Index includes 500 leading U.S. companies and captures approximately 80% coverage of available market capitalization.
S&P Consumer Staples Select Sector Index: The companies included in each Select Sector Index are selected on the basis of general industry classification from a universe of companies defined by the S&P 500. The Index includes companies from the following industries: food and staples retailing; household products; food products; beverages; tobacco; and personal products.
S&P Health Care Sector Index: A benchmark comprised stocks included in the S&P 500 that are classified as members of the GICS® health care sector.
S&P Health Care Services Select Industry Index: The Index represents the health care services segment of the S&P Total Market Index ("S&P TMI"). The S&P TMI is designed to track the broad U.S. equity market. The health care services segment of the S&P TMI comprises the following sub-industries: Health Care Distributors, Health Care Facilities, Health Care Services, and Managed Health Care. The Index is modified equal weighted.
S&P Software & Services Select Industry Index: The Index represents the software and services segment of the S&P TMI.
The information provided does not constitute investment advice and it should not be relied on as such. It should not be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell a security. It does not take into account any investor’s particular investment objectives, strategies, tax status or investment horizon. You should consult your tax and financial advisor.
The views expressed in this material are the views of SPDR ETFs and SSGA Funds Research Team through the period ended March, 17, 2020 and are subject to change based on market and other conditions and do not necessarily represent the views of State Street Global Advisors or any of its affiliates. This document contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or
developments may differ materially from those projected. The information provided does not constitute investment advice and it should not be relied on as such.
Frequent trading of ETFs could significantly increase commissions and other costs such that they may offset any savings from low fees or costs.
Diversification does not ensure a profit or guarantee against loss.
Concentrated investments in a particular sector or industry tend to be more volatile than the overall market and increases risk that events negatively affecting such sectors or industries could reduce returns, potentially causing the value of the Fund’s shares to decrease.
Passively managed funds invest by sampling the Index, holding a range of securities that, in the aggregate, approximates the full Index in terms of key risk factors and other characteristics. This may cause the fund to experience tracking errors relative to performance of the Index.
Equity securities may fluctuate in value in response to the activities of individual companies and general market and economic conditions. Funds investing in a single sector may be subject to more volatility than funds investing in a diverse group of sectors.
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Growth stocks may underperform stocks in other broad style categories (and the stock market as a whole) over any period of time and may shift in and out of favor with investors generally, sometimes rapidly.