Wednesday’s ETF To Watch: Regional Banks Fund (IAT)

by on January 19, 2011 | ETFs Mentioned:

The financial sector of the U.S. market has seen its ups and downs over the last several years, tumbling after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and staging a remarkable rally during the final three quarters of 2009. Although it has been a long road from this dark point, recent years have seen numerous banks and financial companies make strong rebounds, helping to pave the way to recovery for the entire economy. But markets are still not up to pre-recession levels, and another boost from the financial sector would go a long ways towards reclaiming levels not touched in several years. As we officially kick off earnings season this week, investors will look to the various financial firms to report their most recent fiscal quarter’s earnings. Last week saw JP Morgan Chase crush the Street estimates, while yesterday brought bad news from Citigroup, which fell short of estimates. Today will see another bellwether report, with U.S. Bancorp releasing their earnings before market open, potentially tipping the scales towards the bullishness of JP Morgan or the gloomy outlook of Citi [see also Regional Bank ETFs: Head-To-Head].

U.S. Bancorp is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is over 150 years old with over $300 billion in assets. The company is classified as a financial services firm, and serves as the parent company of U.S. Bank, the fifth largest bank in the country. During the emergence from the recession in 2009, the firm was named the best bank in the U.S. as it had done well to overcome numerous obstacles presented in the financial crisis in order to get back on track. [see also Three ETFs To Invest Like David Tepper].

Today, the major financial institution will release earnings from its most recent fiscal quarter. Analysts estimate the firm will bring in EPS of $0.46 with revenues eclipsing $4.5 billion. Over the course of the last four quarters, USB has either met or surpassed earnings predictions in each quarter, a trend that will hopefully continue today. The report from this company could help sway markets one way or the other as far as the financial sector is concerned; with mixed reports from JP Morgan and Citigroup, investors are not quite sure of how financials will fare with this coming batch of earnings [see also Beyond XLF: Five Alternatives To The Popular Financial ETF].

In light of this major earnings announcement, the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Regional Banks Index Fund (IAT) should be active in Wednesday trading. IAT tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Select Regional Banks Index, which measures the performance of the regional bank sub-sector of the U.S. equity market. The ETF’s top holdings include U.S. Bancorp (18.7%), SunTrust Banks (5.3%), and Fifth Third (4.2%). From a performance standpoint, this fund has gained nearly 13% in the last 52 weeks. Because USB makes up such a huge percentage of this fund, its earnings will weigh heavily on IAT’s performance for the day.

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Disclosure: Photo courtesy of Brion L. Vibber. No positions at time of writing.