Something's been brewing in the health care sector, the second-largest group in the S&P 500. Since the start of the second quarter, the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (NYSE: XLV) is one of the top asset-gathering exchange traded funds.
The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ: IBB), thanks to plenty of help from Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), is up almost 14% over the past month. Much of the recent biotechnology ebullience is attributable to progress on the coronavirus treatment and vaccine front.
IBB is the largest biotechnology ETF by assets, but it's not the only one delivering impressive returns in recent weeks. Here's a trio of biotech ETFs that are knocking the cover off the ball.
Virtus LifeSci Biotech Clinical Trials ETF (BBC)
The Virtus LifeSci Biotech Clinical Trials ETF (NYSE: BBC) tracks the LifeSci Biotechnology Clinical Trials Index. That benchmark is a collection of companies with drugs and therapies in clinical trials, which means BBC is at the right place at the right time in the battle to quash coronavirus.
BBC's holdings are basically equally weighted, but that doesn't distract from the fact that Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) is the fund's top holding. Overall, BBC holds about 90 stocks, most of which dwell at the lower end of large-cap territory or are mid- or small-cap names.
In addition to Moderna, several other BBC components have coronavirus treatment exposure and roughly a dozen are credible takeover targets. That's enough to have BBC up nearly 27% over the past month.
ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (ARKG)
In the health care space, the ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (CBOE: ARKG) has been one of the best-performing funds for several years, trouncing traditional health care and biotechnology ETFs for several years, speaking to the capabilities of the fund's active managers.
ARKG typically holds 30 to 50 stocks and currently holds 34, several of which are coronavirus plays — and that doesn't even begin to underscore the fund's virus detection exposure, which highlights ARKG's deep CRISPR exposure.
“As government officials re-open the US, testing for the COVID-19 virus will be a critical step. A new CRISPR-based test called DNA Endonuclease-Targeted CRISPR Trans Reporter (DETECTR) could help speed the process along,” ARK analyst Ali Aurman said in a recent note.
ARKG is higher by nearly 32% over the past month.
Principal Healthcare Innovators Index ETF (BTEC)
The Principal Healthcare Innovators Index ETF (NASDAQ: BTEC) is a departure from the other funds mentioned here because it's not drug/therapy-centric. Rather, BTEC tilts more toward medical device, equipment and life sciences firms.
The fund “invests in companies that are leading the charge toward innovative solutions, rather than spending money on marketing and distribution,” according to Principal.
BTEC's nearly 210 holdings are considered research and development-intensive companies and the fund's methodology screens out companies with negative or inconsistent earnings. The fund is higher by almost 25% over the past month.