These 2 ETFs Are Easily Beating the S&P 500 This Year. Are They Buys?

The S&P 500 is up 6.2% so far this year. These investments are beating it.

The S&P 500 may be the gold standard of investing. For over a century, some form of the index has existed (its modern form began in 1957), returning an average of around 9% with dividends reinvested. This century-plus includes long stretches of economic prosperity as well as world wars, the Great Depression, several economic crashes, and many other crises. Through it all, the American economy, measured by the performance of roughly 500 U.S. large-cap stocks, has continued to grow (though not in a smooth line).

While the S&P 500 has been a great investment over time, there are plenty of other investments that have outperformed it in a given period. Year to date through April 23, the S&P 500 has gained 6.2% as the broad-market index gave up earlier gains after a tech-driven sell-off in April. However, a number of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are beating it this year. Here’s a look at two of them.

The letters ETF and other symbols above a keyboard.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Invesco Mid-Cap Momentum ETF

One characteristic of the S&P 500 is that big tech stocks make up a huge chunk of its value. The so-called “Magnificent Seven” accounts for roughly 30% of the S&P 500’s performance. This is great when those stocks are on the rise, but that level of concentration can also be risky. It’s one reason why the S&P 500 fell sharply in April.

If you want to bet on the stock market’s recent winners but avoid the Magnificent Seven, one excellent choice is the Invesco Mid-Cap Momentum ETF (XMMO 2.28%).

This ETF is based on the S&P Midcap 400 Momentum index. The fund holds the 80 stocks from the S&P Midcap 400 index that have the highest momentum scores, which are measured by recent upward price movements.

As a midcap ETF, the fund tends to focus on stocks with market caps between $2 billion and $10 billion, so it doesn’t hold any of the Magnificent Seven companies. Through April 23, the ETF is up 22.3%. Nearly half of the fund is allocated to industrials, which represent 39% of its holdings, while the information technology and consumer discretionary sectors make up 15% and 14%, respectively.

Its top holdings are:

  1. Vistra, an electric utility
  2. Manhattan Associates, a software company focused on supply chain solutions
  3. Lennox, which makes HVAC and refrigeration products
  4. EMCOR, a construction company
  5. XPO, a less-than-truckload (LTL) transportation company

Those companies are largely cyclical names that will benefit from an expanding economy. If you’re bullish on the economic recovery, this is a great ETF to own.

2. Global X Defense Tech ETF

Sector ETFs are another way to beat the S&P 500. While no single sector will beat the broad-market index all the time, investing in sector ETFs can pay off. With geopolitical tensions in the world, defense stocks are up this year, and that has made the Global X Defense Tech ETF (SHLD 1.52%) a winner.

This ETF is up 17.7% this year and has outperformed other defense sector exchange-traded funds. It tracks the Global X Defense Tech index and invests in companies that will benefit from the adoption of defense technology.

Due to the ETF’s focus on the defense sector, nearly all of its holdings fall in the industrials sector. Its top five holdings are:

  1. BAE Systems, a British company that makes defense systems like naval ships and combat vehicles
  2. RTX Corp., the parent of Pratt & Whitney and Raytheon
  3. General Dynamics, which is diversified across aerospace, marine, and combat systems
  4. Rheinmetall, a German company that makes automotive components and military vehicles
  5. Northrop Grumman, known for military aircraft, drones, and space systems like the James Webb Space Telescope

With wars raging in Ukraine and Gaza and geopolitical tensions around China and other parts of the world, it seems like a good bet that military spending is going to increase, benefiting the companies in the Global X Defense Tech ETF.

Getting some exposure to the defense sector is a good way to protect yourself against wars and conflicts that could threaten other areas of the stock market or lead to a global recession. In many ways, the ETF can protect against some of the downside risks of the S&P 500.

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