Thursday’s ETF To Watch: iShares DJ Transportation Average Fund (IYT)

by on March 17, 2011 | Updated March 22, 2011 | ETFs Mentioned:

This week has been rough on markets, as a series of disasters caused by a major earthquake in Japan has dragged down equities across the world. The earthquake was one of the strongest measured in history, setting off major tsunamis which have caused a catastrophic amount of damage for the country. On top of the initial disaster, several nuclear reactors in Japan are in danger of leaking radiation across the northern part of the country, creating a wave of anxiety in the investing world. Due to fears over this tragedy, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below the 12,000 mark, with most other major indexes falling each day of the week. While international affairs have been major market movers this week, an earnings report from an industry bellwether may stir up equities even more [see also Nuclear ETF Meltdown: Four Funds Rocked By The Japanese Quake].

Today, before market open, FedEx Corporation (FDX) will release its earnings from its most recent fiscal quarter. The Memphis-based firm is one of the largest logistics companies in the world with branches accounting for shipping services across most major forms of transportation. The company is home to approximately 280,000 employees, and raked in revenues over $37 billion last year. While most of the company’s key statistics are solid, its quarterly earnings growth is currently sitting at -18%, which is a cause for concern ahead of today’s report [see also Dude, Where’s My Car ETF?].

Analysts predict the firm to report EPS of $0.82 with revenues of $9.6 billion. The company has missed the last two consensus earnings estimates, but even if The Street likes FedEx’s numbers today, it will likely be overcast by the situation in Japan. The earthquake temporarily halted shipments using FedEx which will likely reflect negatively on the company, as Japan is a major trading superpower and an airport outside of Tokyo is one of the ten biggest for cargo, suggesting that the area may become a bottleneck in the near future. In a more general sense, with nearly all equities tanking on the unfortunate earthquake, FedEx could have a stellar report and still fall simply based on international affairs and its Japanese operations [see also Japan ETFs In Focus After Devastating Quake].

In light of this major earnings announcement, today’s ETF to watch will be the iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Index Fund (IYT). This fund measures the performance of the transportation sector of the U.S. equity market. FedEx ranks as the second highest holding in IYT, accounting for just under 10% of the fund. The all U.S. ETF has lost roughly 1.8% on the year, though it pays out a dividend of 1.1%. With FedEx making up such a large portion of this fund, it will likely be a big mover on the day depending on how the earnings come in. Also, keep in mind that despite what kind of report FedEx may have, Japanese conflicts may trump anything else that happens in the market, especially if leaks of radiation continue or extend further south into the more heavily populated regions of Japan.

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.