Friday, July 11, 2008

ProShares Financial ETFs versus Real Estate ETFs - which should you own?

In looking at the constituent holdings of the ProShares Ultra Financials ETF (UYG) I noticed that there seemed to be a good number of REITS included.

To investigate further, I took the holdings of the ProShares Ultra Real Estate ETF (URE) and did a direct compare to the holdings of UYG.

To my surprise, every single one of the holdings in the Ultra Real Estate ETF, comprising a variety of 80 different REITs, was also included in the Ultra Financials.

Relative performance --

It is interesting to see how real estate underperformed the combined financials until March of 2008 when the situation turned around and financials became the one that underperformed.


Chart of UYG vs. URE
In the first part of the chart, you can see URE begin to weaken as the news about troubles in the real estate sector began to take a toll. During this time, the idea that the problems in real estate wouldn't spill over into the rest of the financial sector or the general economy was still in vogue. By last October reality began to set in and as URE continued its severe down-trend, UYG began to drop at a faster rate. By March of this year, UYG overtook URE on the down side as bank stocks crumbled. That situation continues today.

For the ultra-short ETFs, SKF and SRS, the charts would, of course, be the inverse.

Conclusion --

To review, the Financial ETF holds a diversified mix of banks, brokers and investment houses, mutual fund management companies, commercial and consumer lenders, insurance companies, etc. as well as REITS.

The Real Estate ETF holds all the same REITs as found in the Financial ETF and nothing else. The REITs do fall into a number of different categories including health care, apartments, retail, hotels, etc.

The primary conclusion is that it may not make sense to simultaneously own both UYG and URE. If you want to invest in diversified financials, you can buy UYG and get the holdings of URE as part of the package.

Similarly, it may not make sense to simultaneously own both of the ProShares Ultra-Short ETFs, the Ultra-Short Financials (SKF) and Ultra-Short Real Estate (SRS). If you want to bet against a diversified basket of financial stocks, buy SKF and get the holdings of SRS as part of that package.

As always there is an exception to the rule. If an investor wishes to overweight the real estate sector beyond what the long or short Financial ETFs offer then it is reasonable to add some of the Real Estate ETF to the investment mix.

On the other hand, if an investor wants to concentrate solely on REITs, clearly the ultra-long URE or the ultra-short SRS are the appropriate ETFs.

Disclosure: none



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