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(Ye Liew/ISTOCKPHOTO)

ETFs

Tech sector finally shows signs of seasonal strength Add to ...

The period of seasonal strength in the technology sector is different this year. Thackray’s 2012 Investor’s Guide noted that the period of seasonal strength in the technology sector based on the S&P technology index is from Oct. 9 to Jan. 17. Yet, a downtrend in the technology sector starting in September continued into November this year. What are prospects for the remainder of the period of seasonal strength?

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The outlook for the sector until at least to the middle of January 2013 is above average. Seasonal strength is related to strong consumer electronic sales during the Christmas season followed by anticipation of new product introductions at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Convention scheduled in 2013 between Jan. 8 and Jan. 11. Given the plethora of new consumer electronic products that have come to market during the past few months, sales during the important Christmas season easily are expected to hit all-time highs and excitement about new product announcements is expected to build.

On the charts, the sector finally has begun to show signs of seasonal strength. Since Nov. 16, the S&P technology index, currently at 456.73, has bounced in recent days, and has moved above its 20-day moving average. It has also strengthened relative to the S&P 500 index.

Upside potential for the sector during the current period of seasonal strength is to its high that was set in mid-September at 509.96

A wide variety of ETFs in the sector are available including 34 products trading on U.S. exchanges and one product trading on the Toronto Exchange.

The best known and most actively traded ETF in the sector is the SPDR Technology Select Sector, sponsored by State Street. Units track a basket of technology and telecom stocks that are part of the S&P 500 Index. Management expense ratio is 0.18 per cent. Top five holdings are Apple, IBM, AT&T, Google and Oracle.

Investors looking for a purer, more diversified play in the sector might consider the Vanguard Information Technology index fund. The fund holds 417 U.S. based technology stocks. Top five holdings are Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Google and Oracle. Management expense ratio is 0.19 per cent.

The most actively traded technology sub-sector ETF is Market Vectors Semiconductor Fund. Units track 25 well known U.S. listed semiconductor stocks. A word of caution! Units are highly concentrated in two stocks: Intel and Texas Instruments. Other holdings include Applied Materials, Altera and Analog Devices. Management expense ratio is 0.35 per cent.

An interesting alternative for the semiconductor sub-sector is the iShares Philadelpia Semiconductor Sector Index. Units are backed by a diversified portfolio of 31 semiconductor stocks listed on U.S. exchanges. Top five holdings are Broadcom, Intel, Applied Materials, Texas Instruments and Altera. Management expense ratio is 0.48 per cent.

The most actively traded Software sub-sector ETF is iShares S&P GSTI Software Index Fund. Units track the performance of 55 software stocks listed on U.S. exchanges. Top five holdings are Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce.com, Symantec and Adobe Systems. Management expense ratio is 0.48 per cent.

The most actively traded Internet sub-sector ETF is First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index Fund. Units track 41 internet stocks listed on U.S exchanges. Top five holdings are Google, Amazon.com, EBay, Priceline.com and Salesforce.com. Management expense ratio is 0.60 per cent.

iShares Canada offers the S&P/TSX Capped Information Technology Index. Units track a portfolio of seven Canadian listed stocks. A word of caution here too. The portfolio is highly concentrated in CGI Group, Open Text and Research in Motion. Management expense ratio is 0.61 per cent.

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