Some politicians discuss an America-first agenda, one that has often been extolled by the current presidential administration. In a world where economic globalization is viewed as increasingly important, the America-first sentiment may be viewed as controversial.
Controversy aside, there are scores of exchange traded funds (ETFs) that help investors focus on domestic investment themes. In fact, some of this year’s best ETFs are not just domestic equity funds, but those ETFs where member firms generate significant portions of revenue from within the U.S.
Various economic data points, including GDP and employment numbers, confirm the validity of tilting toward domestically inclined ETFs. Second-quarter GDP growth of 4.1% was the highest growth in almost four years and unemployment numbers reside at generational lows.
With that said, here are some of the best ETFs to consider for investors looking to profit from America-first themes.
Invesco S&P SmallCap Healthcare ETF (PSCH)
Expense Ratio: 0.29%, or $29 annually per a $10,000 invested
The small-cap leadership trend has recently incurred some damage, but domestically inclined investors may want to use that dip to revisit smaller stocks and some of the related ETFs because small caps typically derive higher percentages of revenue on a domestic basis than do large-cap firms.
The Invesco S&P SmallCap Health Care ETF (NASDAQ:PSCH) is down 8.22% over the past month, but it remains one of this year’s best ETFs with a gain of over 33%. Given its recent slide, PSCH may not be the best ETF to buy right this minute as more downside is a real possibility, but data confirm small-cap healthcare names are highly levered to rising GDP figures.
“While U.S. GDP growth is beneficial for stocks in general, the growth has been better for small caps than for large- or mid-caps,” according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. “On average for every 1% of GDP growth, the S&P SmallCap 600 has risen 5.2%, while S&P MidCap 400 and S&P 500 have risen a respective 4.9% and 4.0%. Within small caps, the financials, health care and energy sectors have risen most with growth, gaining on average 6.9%, 6.4% and 6.3%, respectively for every 1% of GDP growth.”
SPDR S&P Aerospace & Defense ETF (XAR)
Expense Ratio: 0.35%
Aerospace and defense investments have a way of sparking patriotism, fitting the bill as America first ideas. As has been widely documented, funds in this segment are among this year’s best ETFs. That includes the SPDR S&P Aerospace & Defense ETF (NYSEARCA:XAR), which is up more than 17% this year.
XAR is one of the best ETFs for domestically inclined investors for at least two reasons. First and most obviously, the fund tracks a sector with a heavy domestic focus, as the primary driver of aerospace and defense revenue is U.S. government contracts. Second, as an equal-weight ETF, XAR tilts toward the aerospace industry’s mid- and small-cap components.
The weighted average market value of XAR’s 35 components is $30.46 billion, still large-cap territory, but significantly below that of cap-weighted aerospace and defense ETFs.
iShares Russell 1000 Pure U.S. Revenue ETF (AMCA)
Expense Ratio: 0.15%
The iShares Russell 1000 Pure U.S. Revenue ETF (NASDAQ:AMCA) is one of the best ETFs for investors looking for broad market exposure while emphasizing the domestic investment theme.
AMCA, which is just over a year old, “seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of U.S. companies exhibiting higher domestic sales as a proportion of the company’s total sales relative to other large- and mid-capitalization U.S. equities,” according to iShares.
AMCA targets the Russell 1000 Pure Domestic Exposure Index and pares the Russell 1000 universe down to just over 400 stocks. The rub with a strategy like this, which is so heavily focused on stocks generating big chunks of revenue within the U.S., is that it lacks exposure to export-driven sectors such as energy and technology. That can be a drag when those sectors are performing well as is the case this year.
Still, AMCA is one of the best ETFs to consider in the current environment due to the domestic focus of the financial services and healthcare sectors — two groups that combine for over 38% of this ETF’s roster.
iShares U.S. Insurance ETF (IAK)
Expense Ratio: 0.43%
The financial services sector has a heavy domestic tilt, but the group is disappointing this year even as interest rates rise. Among the best ETFs tracking the sector this year are insurance funds. Yes, the iShares U.S. Insurance ETF (NYSEARCA:IAK) is up just 1.25%, but that is good enough to make it one of the better financial services fund this year.
IAK targets the Dow Jones U.S. Select Insurance Index and holds 62 stocks, many of which are highly dependent upon the U.S. as their primary revenue stream. IAK is one of the best ETFs for the current environment because for multiple reasons, including dividend growth potential and the tendency of insurance stocks to perform well when interest rates rise.
This insurance ETF also showed its mettle following Hurricane Florence. Hurricane season can be a drag on insurance ETFs, but IAK has traded modestly higher over the past month.
iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF (IJR)
Expense Ratio: 0.07%
As noted earlier, small-cap funds are among the best ETFs to own for investors looking to increase portfolios’ domestic exposure. The iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF (NYSEARCA:IJR) is one of the largest and least expensive small-cap ETFs on the market.
Equally as important is IJR’s tilt toward sectors that in the small-cap space, are heavily domestically oriented, including financial services and healthcare. Those sectors combine for over 29% of IJR’s weight. Throw in a nearly 20% weight to industrial stocks and IJR cements its status as a cost-effective avenue to domestic equity exposure.
“The small cap financials generate about 95% of revenues from the U.S., 17% more than the large cap financials,” said S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The result is the small cap premium in financials is 10.6% year-to-date through July 26, 2018. While all 3 industry groups of the small cap financials outperformed their large cap counterparts, the small diversified financials outperformed most by 13.5%, just ahead of the small cap outperformance by insurance of 12.8%, and more than the 8.4% premium of small banks.”
As of this writing, Todd Shriber did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.