Biotech Was The Hottest ETF Sector In The Third Quarter (IBB)

From Zacks: The broader market was pretty eventful in the third quarter. While geopolitical and political concerns were rife, those threats couldn’t weigh on the equity market returns.

Upbeat Q2 GDP growth data for the U.S. economy, tax reform proposals and some upbeat economic releases trumped awful hurricanes, tensions with North Korea, Trump’s warnings of a Government shutdown and overvaluation concerns.

Against this backdrop, let’s discuss the ETF areas that emerged winners in the third quarter and those that were hit hard.



Biotech ETFs especially those with a focus on cancer therapy staged a great show in the quarter especially on Gilead’s (GILD) buyout announcement of the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Kite pharma (KITE), which is focused on the development and commercialization of cancer immunotherapy products (read: Biotech ETFs Soar on Gilead-Kite Deal).

Immune-oncology is expected to rule the next-era biotech trading. If this was not enough, on Aug 30, the US drug regulator approved Novartis’ Kymriah, a CAR-T cell therapy – which targets the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. All these led BioShares Biotechnology Clinical Trials (BBC – Free Report) and Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF (CNCR – Free Report) to add about 21.4% and 17.5%, respectively in the last three months (as of Sep 29).


Copper price jumped to a 32-month high on bullish hedge fund bets. Deficit concerns are rising in copper investments. In early August, research house Jefferies indicated that prices may remain erratic in the near term and rise to $2.75/lb in 2018 and $3/lb in 2019 from the current $2.87/lb. Jefferies even sees the possibility of a $4/lb or above pricing in copper in the next five years.

Meanwhile, China’s manufacturing activity growth also picked up. Since the country is the world’s biggest consumer of this industrial metal, making up roughly 40% of the global copper demand, the uptick in Chinese manufacturing bodes well for copper demand. All these benefited Global X Copper Miners ETF(COPX – Free Report) , which was up 18.5% in the quarter (read: 3 Red Hot Base Metal ETFs).


The technology sector has been positioned strongly thanks to improving economic and industry fundamentals and Trump’s proposed corporate tax reform. Plus, an outstanding bitcoin rally was instrumental in benefiting semiconductor stocks, since mining of cryptocurrencies needs the usage of semiconductors. ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK – Free Report) and PowerShares Dynamic Semiconductors ETF (PSI – Free Report) jumped about 18.4% each in the third quarter (read: 5 Sector ETFs for Revenue Growth Play).



Agricultural ETFs lost ground in the quarter. Most of funds were in the red. Adverse demand-supply dynamics was probably responsible for this lackluster performance. Teucrium Wheat ETF (WEAT – Free Report) iPath Bloomberg Grains SubTR ETN (JJG – Free Report) and iPath Bloomberg Livestock SubTR ETN COW(COW) lost about 16%, 10.6% and 9% respectively in thethird quarter (as of Sep 29, 2017).


Airline stocks were hurt by back-to-back hurricanes – Irma and Harvey – in the third quarter. Harvey caused cancelations of more than 13,300 flights across Houston during a 12-day period stretching from Aug 25 through Sep 5, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. The disturbance increased following Hurricane Irma as airlines cancelled flights in the Caribbean and offered waivers to passengers in Florida.

As per the policy, airlines ”permitted customers to make one change to their itineraries without paying change fees that can cost $200 or more per passenger.” Naturally, U.S. Global Jets ETF (JETS – Free Report) felt the pressure and lost about 6% in the third quarter (as of Sep 29, 2017) (read: Hurricane Irma: ETF Winners & Losers).


Restaurant stocks bore the brunt of the hurricanes. Analysts apprehended that restaurants may see considerable sales reduction and destruction due to Irma. A Canaccord analyst noted that some restaurants have considerable exposure to Florida.

Among these, Fiesta Restaurant Group Inc. FRGI (37% exposure), Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc. RUTH (21% exposure), Bloomin’ Brands BLMN (19% focus), BJ’s Restaurants (BJRI – Free Report) (12%), Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI– Free Report) (11%), Ruby Tuesday Inc. (10%) and Brinker International Inc. EAT(10%) have a double-digit focus.

Irma disaster happened just one week after Harvey weighed on the comps at restaurants with heavy presence in Texas. Understandably, USCF Restaurant Leaders Fund (MENU – Free Report) was in trouble in the third quarter. The fund lost about 5.6% in the quarter.

The iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index ETF (IBB) was trading at $338.68 per share on Tuesday morning, up $0.04 (+0.01%). Year-to-date, IBB has gained 27.82%, versus a 13.96% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

IBB currently has an ETF Daily News SMART Grade of A (Strong Buy), and is ranked #2 of 33 ETFs in the Health & Biotech ETFs category.

This article is brought to you courtesy of Zacks Research.