Basic Materials Sector 1Q18: Best And Worst

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The Basic Materials sector ranks ninth out of the 11 sectors as detailed in our 1Q18 Sector Ratings for ETFs and Mutual Funds report. Last quarter, the Basic Materials sector, previously named “Materials”, ranked sixth. It gets our Unattractive rating, which is based on an aggregation of ratings of 13 ETFs and 7 mutual funds in the Basic Materials sector as of January 10, 2018. See a recap of our 4Q17 Sector Ratings here.

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Figures 1 and 2 show the best and worst rated ETFs and mutual funds in the sector. Not all Basic Materials sector ETFs and mutual funds are created the same. The number of holdings varies widely (from 23 to 262). This variation creates drastically different investment implications and, therefore, ratings.

Investors should not buy any Basic Materials ETFs or mutual funds because none get an Attractive-or-better rating. If you must have exposure to this sector, you should buy a basket of Attractive-or-better rated stocks and avoid paying undeserved fund fees. Active management has a long history of not paying off.

Our Robo-Analyst technology empowers our unique ETF and mutual fund rating methodology, which leverages our rigorous analysis of each fund’s holdings.[1] We think advisors and investors focused on prudent investment decisions should include analysis of fund holdings in their research process for ETFs and mutual funds.

Figure 1: ETFs with the Best & Worst Ratings – Top 5

* Best ETFs exclude ETFs with TNAs less than $100 million for inadequate liquidity.

Sources: New Constructs, LLC and company filings

Exchange Traded Concepts Trust: REX Gold Hedged S&P 500 ETF (GHS), PowerShares S&P SmallCap Materials Portfolio (PSCM), and iShares Edge MSCI Multifactor Materials ETF (MATF) are excluded from Figure 1 because their total net assets (TNA) are below $100 million and do not meet our liquidity minimums.

Figure 2: Mutual Funds with the Best & Worst Ratings – Top 5


* Best mutual funds exclude funds with TNAs less than $100 million for inadequate liquidity.

Sources: New Constructs, LLC and company filings

First Trust Materials AlphaDEX Fund (FXZ) is the top-rated Basic Materials ETF. There are no mutual funds that receive a Neutral-or-better rating and meet our liquidity minimums. FXZ earns a Neutral rating.

iShares US Basic Materials ETF (IYM) is the worst rated Basic Materials ETF and Fidelity Advisor Materials Fund (FMFAX) is the worst rated Basic Materials mutual fund. IYM earns an Unattractive rating and FMFAX earns a Very Unattractive rating.

156 stocks of the 3000+ we cover are classified as Basic Materials stocks.

The Danger Within

Buying a fund without analyzing its holdings is like buying a stock without analyzing its business and finances. Put another way, research on fund holdings is necessary due diligence because a fund’s performance is only as good as its holdings’ performance. Don’t just take our word for it, see what Barron’s says on this matter.


Analyzing each holding within funds is no small task. Our Robo-Analyst technology enables us to perform this diligence with scale and provide the research needed to fulfill the fiduciary duty of care. More of the biggest names in the financial industry (see At BlackRock, Machines Are Rising Over Managers to Pick Stocks) are now embracing technology to leverage machines in the investment research process. Technology may be the only solution to the dual mandate for research: cut costs and fulfill the fiduciary duty of care. Investors, clients, advisors and analysts deserve the latest in technology to get the diligence required to make prudent investment decisions.

Figures 3 and 4 show the rating landscape of all Basic Materials ETFs and mutual funds.

Figure 3: Separating the Best ETFs From the Worst ETFs


Sources: New Constructs, LLC and company filings

Figure 4: Separating the Best Mutual Funds from the Worst Mutual Funds


Sources: New Constructs, LLC and company filings

This article originally published on January 11, 2018.

Disclosure: David Trainer, Peter Apockotos, and Kyle Guske II receive no compensation to write about any specific stock, sector or theme.

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[1] Ernst & Young’s recent white paper “Getting ROIC Right” proves the superiority of our holdings research and analytics.

Article by Peter Apockotos, New Constructs

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