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ETFs: Strategies for Becoming Sector Savvy

With almost 9,000 ETFs on the stock market it can be overwhelming to figure out where to put your capital (as well as what areas to avoid).

One of the strengths of ETFs is that you can get exposure to specific sectors of the market. A great place to start is with the SPDR (pronounced “spider”) market sectors, which divides the S&P 500 into eleven different categories.

These neat divisions help give you exposure to the areas of the market you want (and avoid the areas you don’t.)

I put together a new Investing-U episode with our co-founder Nick Hodge that’ll walk you through the different sectors available — as well as other areas of the market you’ll want to consider.

State Street Global Advisors offers a suite of ETFs divided by sector, which all go by the name SPDR (pronounced “spider”). They’re the oldest and most trusted funds, and so understanding these sectors gives you a helpful overview of what’s available.

The 11 SPDR sectors are:

1. Materials (XLB): This sector includes companies involved in the discovery, development, and processing of raw materials. Examples are firms involved in metals, chemicals, forestry, etc.

2. Energy (XLE): Comprises companies in the energy sector, such as those involved in the exploration, production, and refining of oil and gas.

3. Financials (XLF): Represents companies involved in activities such as banking, investment banking, insurance, and real estate.

4. Industrials (XLI): This sector covers companies that manufacture and distribute capital goods, provide commercial services and supplies, or provide transportation services.

5. Technology (XLK): Represents the technology sector and includes companies in software, hardware, IT services, and semiconductors.

6. Consumer Staples (XLP): This ETF tracks companies involved in the production and sale of consumer goods that have a steady demand, such as food, beverages, and household products.

7. Utilities (XLU): Covers utility companies, including those in the electric, gas, and water industries.

8. Health Care (XLV): This sector includes companies involved in health care services, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and medical equipment.

9. Consumer Discretionary (XLY): Comprises companies that produce or sell luxury goods or services, entertainment products, automobiles, and others. Demand for these products or services tends to be more cyclical.

10. Real Estate (XLRE): Focuses on companies involved in real estate, including real estate management and development and REITs.

11. Communication Services (XLC): This newer sector represents companies involved in diversified communication services, media, and internet industries.

Many ETFs are modeled around these categories, which can give you additional options if you’re looking to invest in something specific.

But most important of all: in the video, Nick and I walk through how to find what’ll make a difference for you as an investor.

ETFs: Strategies for Becoming Sector Savvy

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