Boeing Evades Competition, Puts Defense ETFs In Focus

by on June 30, 2010 | ETFs Mentioned:

Wednesday was an eventful day for Dow component Boeing (BA), one of the largest global aircraft manufacturers and third largest defense contractor in the world. While the company has seen a lot of bad press in regards to the lengthy delays to its 787 Dreamliner plane, two events early Wednesday look to give the company a positive long-term boost. Boeing reported that it is making an offer for combat engineering firm Argon ST for roughly $775 million in cash, or $34.50 a share for Argon. The move looks to expand Boeing’s electronic intelligence and surveillance business and help the company diversify more into defense and away from aerospace.

In another development for Boeing, the World Trade Organization has ruled that European governments were providing improper subsidies to Airbus, Boeing’s main competitor, in the form of government loans at below-market interest rates. The WTO panel said that the loans were expected to aid export sales and that the subsides should be withdrawn in 90 days. Although the Europeans are expected to appeal this decision by the WTO, the move could help to sway the Pentagon towards awarding a $40 billion contract for refueling tankers to Boeing instead of its European rival. Should that happen, look for shares of BA to take off.

For investors who believe that the WTO decision will boost Boeing or that BA’s play for Argon ST will set of  a consolidation wave across the aerospace and defense, there are a few ETFs that may make interesting plays. These two ETFs, found in the Industrials Equities ETFdb Category, both have a focus on the aerospace & defense industry [also see Aerospace & Defense ETFs Head-To-Head]:

PowerShares Aerospace & Defense (PPA)

PPA allocates 6.4% of its assets to Boeing, as well as large allocations to industrial giants Honeywell (6.9%) and United Technologies (6.6%). The fund holds 59 securities in total and allocates 53.4% of assets to the top ten holdings. The fund is pretty well spread out in terms of market capitalization levels, with giant caps counting for 13%, large caps for 44%, and medium capitalization firms for 29%. The fund is up about 20% over the past 52 weeks and charges an expense ratio of 0.60% [see more holdings of PPA here].

iShares Dow Jones U.S. Aerospace & Defense Index Fund (ITA)

ITA allocates a slightly higher percentage of its assets towards Boeing, with almost 8% going towards the aerospace giant. In addition to Boeing, ITA allocates high levels of assets towards United Technologies (8.2%) and General Dynamics (6.1%). The fund holds fewer securities than its PowerShares counterpart (only 32), but it has an expense ratio that is lower by 12 basis points, suggesting that the fund may be a better choice for investors more worried about costs than having a wide portfolio of companies [see more fundamentals of ITA here].

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Eric is long ITA.