Don't wait till May to sell and go away

The summer months have traditionally been hard on some sectors and asset classes, so now's the time to identify vulnerable ETFs.

By Benzinga Apr 16, 2013 12:40PM
A woman in a swimming pool copyright Liam Norris, Cultura, Getty ImagesBy The ETF Professor

Monday was just one day of market action, and a nasty one at that. While it pays not to get emotional over a single trading day, it also pays to be prepared.

With just two weeks left in the month of April, it could be a good time to start preparing for the phenomenon known as "sell in May and go away."

Of course, there are no guarantees that sell in May and go away will be the scenario that plays out this year, but history has shown time and again that the May through October time frame is often unkind to stocks. Notable is the fact that some sectors and assets classes have a tendency to wilt during the summer months and that under-performance often kicks off at some point in May.

With that in mind, several marquee ETFs across various asset classes were examined for noticeable weakness in the May-June time period over the last two years. Investors will want to have a look at this list because the plain vanilla equivalents of the inverse ETFs highlighted here are among the most popular ETFs on the market today.

iShares Silver Trust (SLV)
The largest ETF backed by physical silver is down 15% in the past five trading days alone, perhaps a sign that the white metal is kicking off its seasonal weakness a couple of weeks early. Same goes for gold and both gold and silver end a period of historical weakness in May that usually lasts until early June.

Looking at recent May performances for SLV, the ETF performed fell in 2011 and that was after silver fell from near record highs in April of that year. SLV's May 2011 decline was fraught with increased volatility as investors cringed at the notion of silver market manipulation. By the time June ended, SLV was trading lower than at any point during April.

May 2012 was similarly unkind to SLV as the ETF slid about 10% during that month. Two months may not make a trend for some folks, but it is clear the last two Mays have been unkind to SLV and given the ETF's performance on Monday, the third May (May 2013) will not be the charm to right the course for SLV. All this is very good news for the ProShares UltraShort Silver (ZSL), which is up 38% in the past month.

ProShares UltraShort FTSE China 25 (FXP)
Already disappointing to start 2013, long China ETFs were back in the spotlight Monday when the world's second-largest economy reported first-quarter GDP growth of 7.7%. That missed the consensus estimate of 8% and the report has investors fretting over another summertime swoon for Chinese stocks.

As it is, the iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (FXI) and other China ETFs have struggled mightily. FXI in particular has been hurt just because it is the largest China ETF, but also because several of its 26 holdings have been showing obvious technical weakness (Benzinga).

FXI was basically flat in May 2011, but by mid-July, the ETF was down nearly 10% from the end of May. May 2012 was even worse as FXI lost 12.8%. The previous two summers have been cruel to FXI, but that will work in favor of the ProShares UltraShort FTSE China 25. If the double-leveraged bearish play on FXI trades above $22.75, a new up leg (or down leg for FXI) could be in the offing.

ProShares UltraShort Oil & Gas (DUG)
The ProShares UltraShort Oil & Gas seeks to provide twice the daily inverse performance of the Dow Jones U.S. Oil & Gas Index, the same index tracked by the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Energy Sector Index Fund (IYE).

Energy ETFs have been impressive as far as high-beta sector funds go this year, but the risk is that this group will obey its own seasonality. That includes the best time frame in which to own energy stocks ending in May (Benzinga).

IYE has obeyed that seasonality. The ETF fell slightly in May 2011 and those declines were extend through June before the surged into late July. That pop gave way to a 22% drop into early August. In May 2012, IYE dropped nearly 12%. Traders may be preparing for a repeat performance as DUG gained 7.6% on nearly quadruple its average daily volume today.

With DUG, keep an eye on how Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) are trading because those stocks combine for over 36% of IYE's weight.

More from Benzinga

Apr 16, 2013 3:16PM

If you are reading this article for financial advice better think again. These Moronic stories on MSN will get you nowhere financially !  Continually buying and selling only makes money for the "Financial Advisors"  Buy and hold for the Long Term and tell them where to stick it .


Invest for the Long Term and let these Financial Rats dine on their own feces !

Apr 16, 2013 1:30PM
More of the same doom and gloom from MSN.  WHy can't we just enjoy the ride? If you'd sold and gotten out when the first "red flag" article came out, you'd have lost a lot of money!
Apr 16, 2013 1:47PM

"More of the same doom and gloom from MSN"


It has been a really nice run since 2009. I think the market may have gotten a little ahead of itself. Why not throw a little caution in the mix. I think the odds of a correction are increasing.


In 2009, I was a bull in a sea of bears. Now, I am getting bearish in a sea of bulls. 

Apr 16, 2013 4:16PM
Every article spells doom and gloom....but no author says where they are investing...hmmm
Apr 16, 2013 2:32PM
You can't enjoy the ride aka be a long term holder if you know the game is rigged to backfire. Most pros aren't comfortable with this Market simply because of why it has risen. Uncle Ben and the entire core of Global Fed Money Printing. 

Was Jimmy preaching Doom and Gloom. Markets are about taking different sides and placing your bets. Winners and Losers. The Fed is trying to say the House can never lose. That's not reality. Make your own buy or sell choices but don't think the Global Fed Printing Press isn't a huge Player of what happens in the markets. When it blows, it will be historical.
Apr 16, 2013 4:41PM
Another person who can predict the future! There is not a single person on this planet that can predict what will happen with the market in May. All depends on the news and not one single person on this planet can foresee the future.
Apr 16, 2013 4:36PM
SRFN-I saw my first Red Flag end of May 2008-got completely out put myself in several bond funds,did ok on the interest rate decline.So from when I got out Almost Dow 14000 with 4 years of 5.55% yearly returns on my money it works out to be Dow 16800.I always listen to both sides of the equation and right now My biggest fear is US DEBT and rising interest rates.On another post I said I am seriously tinkering with going ALL CASH should be able to retire in 5 years at 62. Right now I probably only have about 10% in the market-really missed out on alot of the  upside of the Dow but I always felt safe with my money.
Apr 16, 2013 6:13PM
These financial writers are like monkeys on crack !  Always something to say, more to write, change the story every few minutes, forget what they said yesterday, spout out some self serving hot gas, bla, bla, bla.   I pay no real attention other than to get a giggle now and then.  All I know is when I buy in a low market I make money. When I buy in a good market I loose money.  
Apr 16, 2013 6:37PM
Apr 16, 2013 6:17PM
The article leaves us flat. "ETF" is not explained. Does it stand for  "erroneous talking fool"?
Apr 16, 2013 7:38PM

This whole MSN Money, Top Stock Blogs is just so full of ****!  As I was just reading on the most current prediction (which of course I couldnt reply to do to technical difficulties) All they do on here is try to scare everyone by predicting, "Just wait, it's going to get really BAD again!!!"  "How unnatural for the market to keep going up, it MUST be going to crash down on us all again soon", is their favorite prediction.  Is there ever going to be any fair, realistic articles on MSN Money or just trying to scare a bunch of us who have already weathered the hardest part of the economic storm and are un-affected by your silly scare tactics?


Dividend stocks like CSX,  NVDA, T and some MLPs like KMP, or BDCs like ARCC, PSEC, a few Tech stocks for excitement.  Some Australian manufacturing and Canadian or European oil stocks to firm up the portfolio wouldn't hurt.
Apr 16, 2013 5:06PM
Well Mr.Cat you're right, I don't have throw away money.I need to make sure part time jobs aren't required when I retire.So risking a downturn in the market or an upturn in interest rates is just not in my best interest.I truly do not trust this market SOOOO?
Apr 16, 2013 7:19PM
Another good comment, just blown away into bit and byte land; Why do I bother???
Apr 16, 2013 4:49PM

Quite frankly David,I cannot predict the future and what I did may have been ignorant in your mind but I took a shidt kicken in the DOT COM bubble and made some serious Money from that bottom to the 14,000 top.Several of the so called doom and gloomers convinced me I should take my profits and AM I glad I did.Almost got back in August 2008 because people were all bullish again but waited to see what could happen.

Apr 16, 2013 1:39PM

"If you'd sold and gotten out when the first "red flag" article came out, you'd have lost a lot of money!"


If you opened a Monopoly Game and grabbed a fist full of game paper, you'd have a lot of money too. Too bad the market AND the Monopoly Game money aren't real Dollars.

Apr 16, 2013 1:38PM
Enjoy the ride? What do you know? 100% of all indicators are flashing ALERT. You can't go through life thinking the small timeline of your lifetime is the constant. It isn't and has never been. Bernanke has been keeping the numbers high while the economy tanks. Now we have high indebtedness and no economy. Put your i-phone down and wake up... no one NO ONE kicks back and ends up rich, you have to keep the machine running and you have been AWOL too long from responsibility.
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