The Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSE: XLE) is off to a dismal start in 2020, having shed 9.46% and residing just 4.63% above its 52-week low.
Yes, there's a case to be made that traditional energy stocks have a value feel, but there's a strong case that the energy industry as many investors have come to know it's undergoing significant disruption and may never look the same.
Energy stocks and funds like XLE aren't just being pinched by investors embracing renewable energy names. The traditional group is being plagued by larger-scale investors rejecting fossil fuels producers.
Individual market participants can deploy similar tactics with ETFs that explicitly exclude energy fare. Not surprisingly, some of these funds are performing well this year.
SPDR S&P 500 Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETF (SPYX)
The SPDR S&P 500 Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETF (NYSE: SPYX) tracks the S&P 500 Fossil Fuel Free Index, which “seeks to allow climate change-conscious investors to align the core of their investment strategy with their values by eliminating companies that own fossil fuel reserves from the S&P 500,” according to State Street.
SPYX debuted in late 2015 and what initially appeared to be gimmicky type of fund has morphed into a quiet winner in the sustainable investing race with over $493 million in assets under management.
The fund actually has a 1.04% energy weight, most of which is derived from modest allocations to refiners and pipeline operators. That's not cheating because those companies don't produce oil or natural gas.
ProShares S&P 500 ex-Energy ETF (SPXE)
The ProShares S&P 500 ex-Energy ETF (NYSE: SPXE) may sound like a twin to the aforementioned SPYX, but the reality is that the ProShares is more like a second cousin. SPXE excludes the energy sector outright.
With the sector's weight seemingly dwindling by the day in the S&P 500, it can be argued that SPXE is an increasingly accurate portrayal of the benchmark domestic equity gauge.
What happens with SPXE is that the energy sector is eliminated and its weight is redistributed among the other 10 sectors comprising the S&P 500. The difference is meaningful. SPXE is up 4.57% year-to-date while the S&P 500 is higher by 3.77%.
SPDR MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF (LOWC)
The SPDR MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF (NYSE: LOWC) tracks the MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target Index, which is essentially the MSCI ACWI Index reweighted with a bias toward companies with low or no carbon footprints.
This fund does have a 3.06% weight to energy stocks, explaining why it's up just 2.33% to start 2020. Technology and financial services stocks combine for 35% of the fund's weight, but LOWC is underweight the former and overweight the latter relative to the S&P 500.