6 ETFs to watch this week

Investors will be watching the market's reaction to Europe's bank stress tests, along with key earnings in the oil and biotech sectors.

By TheStreet Staff Jul 26, 2010 9:51AM

thestreet.comSimple stock picking tips © CorbisBy Don Dion, TheStreet

 

As the market reacts to the stress tests in Europe and the earnings of key energy and gold mining companies this week, here are six exchange-traded funds to keep an eye on.

 

1. CurrencyShares Euro Trust (FXE)

 

This week we'll start to learn how investors interpret the stress tests.

 

Concurrent with the European stress tests was news that Hungary's debt rating is up for review at Moody's. The country has broken off talks with the International Monetary Fund as the prime minister called for "economic sovereignty."

 

 

Due to the exposure of Western European banks, a crisis in Eastern Europe could make the stress tests mute, though there's no sign of a major problem in Hungary at this point.

 

2. iShares Dow Jones U.S. Oil & Gas Production & Exploration Index (IEO)

 

Occidental Petroleum (OXY), Noble Energy (NBL) and Valero (VLO) report earnings this week.

 

The firms are all top-10 holdings in IEO, accounting for 21% of its assets. OXY is the largest holding in the ETF, with 14.6% of assets. The other two firms have less than 4% of assets.

Oil prices tanked in May of this year, but they've moved sideways over the past two months and are about where they've been for the past nine months. Natural gas prices have been low for most the year, but are currently higher than in April and May.

 

The BP (BP) disaster has overshadowed the industry, but earnings season should refocus investors on the bigger supply and demand picture in the industry. Last week, oil service firms Halliburton (HAL) and Schlumberger (SLB) reported strong earnings and there was the disputed story about China surpassing the United States in energy usage. Whether the report was accurate or not, China will eventually get there.

 

The oil majors also begin to report earnings this week, so expect a focus on energy. Also, several other top 10 holdings in IEO will report next week, so this will be an important two-week period for the group.

 

3. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX)

 

Companies representing nearly 50% of assets report earnings this week. Top three holdings Barrick Gold (ABX), Goldcorp (GG) and Newmont Mining (NEM) account for 16.5%, 11.9% and 11.5% of assets and will be the most responsible for leading the group higher or lower this week.

 

NEM is close to a 52-week high, but ABX and GG have slipped and pulled GDX along with them.

GDX has stubbornly refused to exceed its March 2008 all-time high, when gold was priced about 20% lower. Shares would need to rally about 13% to exceed the 52-week high, with a little further to go to hit a new all-time high.

 

NEM and ABX have beaten analyst estimates in the past year and estimates have been rising, but the picture is mixed with GG. Either way, earnings haven't proved much of a catalyst for rallies in the past and until they do, in the absence of another leg up in the price of gold, GDX may continue to move sideways.

 

4. Claymore/MAC Global Solar Energy Index (TAN)

 

First Solar (FSLR) and MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR) kick off the solar sector's earnings season this week.

 

FSLR surprised analysts when it beat their estimates by 22% in the first quarter, and estimates quickly rose for the second quarter. However, those estimates haven't budged much in the past two months and analysts are looking for $1.60 per share in earnings, an increase of almost 25% from their estimate 90 days ago, about in line with the first-quarter surprise.

 

WFR has seen estimates drop over the past 90 days. The share price of WFR recently hit a new five-year low and shares have traded below the November 2008 low for almost three months.

 

It's a mixed bag for other holdings and TAN trades about 70% above its March 2009 low, but also 30% below its January 2010 post-crisis high.

 

At almost 10% assets and as the No. 1 holding, FSLR has the most direct impact on TAN. Supplier WFR may be more important for a broader rally in the sector though, since its earnings are more dependent on trends in the sector.

 

I'm not optimistic about solar unless the price of oil climbs higher and TAN has bounced almost 30% from June lows. There may be more upside this week if FSLR beats earnings and its shares rally, but I expect the recent gains will consolidate in the coming weeks, ahead of the mid-August earnings from some of the other solar producers.

 

5. iShares: Nasdaq Biotech (IBB)

 

Amgen (AMGN), the top holding a 9.2% of this ETF, reports its earnings this week, with earnings estimates flat all quarter for the company.

 

IBB could use some good news after shares of Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA) were hit on Friday. The company was beaten to market by Novartis (NVS) after the company won FDA approval for a generic version of Lovenox.

 

IBB has been below its 50-day moving average since May, but it could climb above it if this is an up week and that would be a bullish sign that further gains could be in store.

 

6. Market Vectors Coal (KOL)

 

This was one of the strongest performing ETFs last week, along with Market Vectors Steel (SLX). A couple of holdings report earnings this week, but shares climbed right through their 50-day moving average last week and are ready to break the 200-day moving average this week.

 

KOL, which was a market leader during the post- crash rally, saw its shares peaked in January 2010.

 

Corporate earnings have been good in general this quarter, but economic data has been mixed. A strong performance by KOL, however, would be indicative of investor optimism concerning the global economic recovery.

 

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