Update: SPDR® S&P 500 UCITS ETF

Apple, Alphabet und Microsoft gesellen sich zu Johnson&Johnson, Exxon und Wells Fargo. Die Mischung erweist sich für aktive Manager als unschlagbar: ETFs auf den S&P 500 werden immer mehr zur ersten Wahl für Anleger, die in den USA investieren wollen. 

Monika Dutt 15.04.2016
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The exchange-traded fund provides low-cost access to 500 of the largest companies in the United States. Given that the US equity market is highly efficient, a solid body of evidence shows that active managers struggle to outperform US large-cap benchmarks, so taking a passive approach to this asset class makes a lot of sense.

Since its inception in 2012, the ETF’s risk-adjusted returns have ranked at the top of the first quartilerelative to its Morningstar Category over three- and five-year periods. Meanwhile, other S&P 500 ETFs with a longer run in the marketplace have also ranked in the first quartile over a 10-year period.

The fund uses physical replication, investing in all the constituents of the S&P 500 Net Return Index.

Meanwhile, the tracking difference (fund return – index return) has been positive, indicating that the ETF has outperformed its benchmark. This can be explained by dividend withholding tax differences between the fund and the index as well as its low fees. With an ongoing charge of 0.09%, the fund is one of the cheapest Europe-domiciled S&P 500 ETFs available.

The S&P 500 is widely used as Wall Street’s barometer for the U.S. economy, covering 80% of the U.S. equity market by market capitalisation. The index is well diversified by sector with the highest exposure to information technology, financials, and healthcare. Given its broad exposure, this fund can be used as a long-term core holding in a portfolio. It can also be used as a tactical tool for investors looking to place a short-term bet on the direction of the U.S. equity market.

All factors considered, we see this fund as a solid above-average investment proposition likely to consistently continue outperforming its category peers. The SPDR S&P 500 UCITS ETF is one of the cheapest, though not best performing, passive offerings, tracking the S&P 500.

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Fundamentale Analyse

The United States has recovered from the depths of the financial crisis more quickly and smoothly than other developed economies. Over the past few years, cheap financing fuelled by zero-bound interest rates and quantitative easing has helped corporations buy their own shares back and issue large amounts of debt. Altogether, since 2009, these factors drove the bullish run on US equities.

The US economy remains resilient despite strong global headwinds. Growth is slowly expanding, and the labour market is operating at nearly full-employment. Meanwhile, current inflation is below the 2% target, but longer-term expectations are fairly anchored at higher levels. These conditions have allowed the Federal Reserve to raise rates for the first time in nearly a decade at the end of 2015.

The Fed has always indicated that any monetary tightening will be gradual. However, the early market experiences of 2016 have signalled increased downside risks to the global outlook; with the slowdown in emerging markets--particularly China--and the weakness of commodity prices as top concerns. As a result, what was already going to be a slow tightening cycle may now decelerate, halt, or even regress.

The bottom line is that rates are likely to remain low for a very long time. However, with most central banks elsewhere in the world actively delivering ultra-easy monetary policies, the United States would still lead the monetary cycle. On balance, this is supportive of continued dollar strength relative to other currencies, which would weigh on US corporate earnings.

The stock market turmoil in early 2016 has brought S&P 500 valuations down closer to historical averages, although they still remain pricey compared with their international counterparts. Lacklustre revenue data and lower-than-expected earnings in fourth-quarter 2015 have further worsened expectations for high positive returns in the US equity market in 2016.

Overall, while accounting for downside revisions to US corporate earnings expectations due to growing global risks, investors seeking exposure to US equities need not overlook the fact that the US economy remains well-footed.

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The S&P 500 is a float-adjusted market-cap-weighted portfolio of 500 large U.S.-domiciled stocks. For a constituent to be included in the index, it must meet the following eligibility criteria: an unadjusted market capitalisation above USD 5.3 billion, a trading volume of at least 50% of its shares outstanding, and a positive sum of the most recent as-reported earnings for four consecutive quarters, as well as for the most recent quarter. The U.S. Index Committee maintains the S&P 500 and meets on a monthly basis. It aims to minimise index membership turnover. If a constituent no longer meets the entrance requirements, the committee will not remove the member immediately if it deems the change temporary. The index is well diversified by sector and security. The most significant sector exposures are to information technology (19%-22%), financials (15%-17%), and healthcare (13%-15%). The top 10 holdings constitute approximately 17% of the total index weight, including Apple (3%-4%), Alphabet (2%-3%), and Microsoft (2%-3%).

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The fund uses full physical replication to capture the performance of the S&P 500 Net Total Return Index. The fund owns--to the extent that it’s possible and efficient--all the underlying constituents in the same proportion as its benchmark. The fund uses futures for equitisation purposes, which helps limit tracking error. The fund does not engage in securities lending.

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The ETF’s ongoing charge is 0.09%, which is at the low end of the range for ETFs with exposure to the U.S. large-cap equity market. The tracking difference (fund return – index return) over the past three years has ranged between 0.17% and 0.20%, indicating that the ETF has outperformed its benchmark. This is mainly because of dividend-withholding tax differences. (By virtue of being domiciled in Ireland and the double-tax treaty between Ireland and the US, the fund enjoys a better withholding tax rate on dividends than the S&P 500 Net Total Return, thus creating a built-in degree of outperformance.) Other costs carried by the unitholder include trading costs when buy and sell orders are placed for ETF shares, including bid-ask spreads and brokerage fees.

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Various ETF providers offer products that track the S&P 500, including (but not limited to) iShares, Vanguard, HSBC, and Source.

As a direct alternative, investors can look to the second-largest S&P 500 ETF domiciled in Europe, the Vanguard S&P 500. With an ongoing charge of 0.07%, it is one of the cheapest and best-performing ETFs available among peers.

For investors not seeking income, the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (ongoing charge: 0.07%) is one of the best “accumulating” alternatives available, given its low fee, good tracking performance, and superior on-exchange liquidity.

Providers are also offering currency hedged S&P 500 ETFs for an additional cost. IShares offers GBP, EUR, and CHF hedged ETFs (ongoing charge: 0.45% each), while Source offers a EUR hedged S&P 500 ETF (ongoing charge: 0.15%).

Beyond the S&P 500, there are other index alternatives for U.S. equity market exposure, including the MSCI USA, the technology heavy Nasdaq, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index, which is price-weighted and more concentrated in its holdings.

For alternatives to market-capitalisation-weighted exposure to U.S. equities, investors can turn to the iShares S&P 500 Min Vol ETF, the Ossiam ETF US Minimum Variance NR, the db x-trackers S&P 500 Equal Weight, or the PowerShares Dynamic US Market Fund. It is important to understand that all of these strategies can experience long periods of underperformance relative to the broad market.

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Über den Autor

Monika Dutt  E' Analista sulle strategie passive di Morningstar Europe