Some of the most talked-about investing bets of the past year aren’t the companies that benefited from the COVID-19 lockdowns or business activity going virtual. Rather, they’re the ones whose stocks stand to pop when it’s all over.
Think of the U.S. Global Jets ETF /zigman2/quotes/207744796/composite JETS -1.39% , which has soared to a whopping $2.6 billion in assets, even as it weathers a bumpy ride , pardon the pun, as market sentiment toggles between optimism and gloom about the reopening of the economy and the resumption of normal life.
In the spirit of fresh starts, MarketWatch asked an expert on exchange-traded funds for some reopening recommendations that aren’t quite as concentrated as JETS, and are likely to survive, even thrive, in what’s likely to be a turbulent period through the worst of the winter and into a world where coronavirus treatments are readily available.
One of the best bets for any investor might be the Invesco Dynamic Leisure and Entertainment ETF /zigman2/quotes/200258677/composite PEJ -1.74% , which owns exactly what you think it might, based on the name, noted Todd Rosenbluth, head of mutual fund and ETF research for CFRA, but in a much more approachable portfolio than the pure-play JETS.
PEJ’s holdings include companies and industries that have been smacked hard by the pandemic, like hotels, casinos, and Walt Disney Co. /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS +0.51%
“Even as vaccines are rolled out, certain parts of the consumer experience will improve at different rates: people might be more inclined to go to restaurants, to maybe take a trip by car, but maybe not by plane,” Rosenbluth said. “There won’t be a straight line up in terms of consumer spending so the diversification of this fund will help.”
PEJ doesn’t just diversify in terms of business models. It also has a mixture of large, mid, and small cap stocks, as well as growth and value companies, Rosenbluth noted. A portfolio with exposure to small-caps and value stocks should benefit from greater economic improvement and cyclicality.
Another selection, the SoFi 50 /zigman2/quotes/212244029/composite SFYF -3.58% , is unique among ETFs: it includes stocks from companies where SoFi platform members have invested the most money. Because it’s rebalanced monthly to take advantage of that fluid situation, rather than quarterly, like many ETFs, this fund may respond more quickly to changes in consumer habits and regulations.
“If investors are becoming more bullish on the reopening and owning more travel and leisure and restaurants and other cyclical companies, then that’s what this ETF will have exposure to,” Rosenbluth said in an interview. “It may be a lagging indicator, but it’s more aligned with certain investor sentiment.”
As of the end of November, the fund’s portfolio included a healthy dose of hunker-down plays, like Amazon.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -2.36% , Zoom Video Communications /zigman2/quotes/211319643/composite ZM +0.12% , and Shopify Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209033712/composite SHOP -6.16% , as well as several reopening names, like Delta Air Lines Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200327741/composite DAL -0.97% and Carnival Corp., /zigman2/quotes/202325446/composite CCL -3.39% among its top holdings. It’s also up 30% in the year to date, a sign its crowd-sourced methodology hasn’t done so badly.
Finally, if you’re most bullish on the travel sector, but want a bit more diversification than JETS offers, take a look at the ETFMG Travel Tech ETF, /zigman2/quotes/216415466/composite AWAY -1.81% which launched in late February.
“You could not have dreamed up an ETF that was more poorly positioned for the shutdown that’s now eight months old,” Rosenbluth said. “That said, it’s recovered nicely.”
AWAY has just about broken even in the year to date, but is up a whopping 43% so far in November, suggesting lots of investors see value in its holdings.
As fits its name, AWAY invests in companies that provide infrastructure for the travel industry, like booking companies Sabre Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200765742/composite SABR -1.29% and MakeMyTrip Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/207194419/composite MMYT +0.78% It’s diverse in terms of country exposure, which may be a plus if different countries and regions start to open up to travel at different times.