Three Q1 Stats That Aren't April Fool’s Jokes

We ETF nerds didn't make up this information, which advisors can use to help clients make good choices.

Reviewed by: Staff
Edited by: Staff

ETF data, charts and trends scroll continuously across my screens, part of being a card-carrying member of what one firm in the industry, Tidal Financial Group, calls being an “ETF Nerd.” 

As we say, I resemble that remark.

On days like April Fools, we nerds try hard as we do every day not to get fooled by what is happening in the markets, as opposed to what many think is happening. As is the case each year on April first, we look back at the just-completed first quarter and point out some goings-on that might fool some investors, but not we ETF nerds.

Here are a handful of examples, delivered in an April Fools-style format, just for today. 

Alternative Energy Has Been a Great Investment... NOT

Tenured ETFs like the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (ICLN) and the Invesco WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (PBW) had an awful first quarter. They were down 10% and 22%, respectively, bringing their cumulative losses since the start of 2022t o 32% for the former and 71% for the latter. That type of 40% outperformance is something only an April fool would brag about. 

Banks Led Financials to Huge 1st-Qtr (no, not really) 

Oh, that sector, measured by the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) did indeed post a 12% gain for the quarter. But it was insurance companies and “non-bank financials” like payment processors that led the charge. For a clue into the drivers, the Invesco KBW Property & Casualty Insurance ETF (KBWP) gained nearly 20%, while the Amplify Mobile Payments ETF (IPAY) climbed more than 13%.

Europe’s Recession Crushed its Stock Market (kidding...) 

If there’s one thing investors in U.S. stocks can point to as a reason the market can still do OK if recession is in the cards, it's the performance of the SPDR Euro Stoxx 50 ETF (FEZ). It was up more than 10% in quarter one, which is more than its entire total return since the end of August 2021, more than 30 months ago.

Since that time nearly three years ago, FEZ is up less than 7% including dividends, which means that going into this year, it was under water from mid-2021 through the end of 2023. That has turned around in a hurry, despite the fact that for the full year 2023, Europe produced near-zero economic growth

No Joke: Smarter Choices with ETF Analysis 

Every quarter brings us ETF performance stats that diligent advisors can use to bring to life conversations with clients about what is going on factually, as opposed to what they might think they are hearing as fact from elsewhere. 

This quarter just happened to be the one each year that ends just before April Fools Day. It is no joke that advisors can make clients smarter by using ETF analysis to separate hype from reality.

Rob Isbitts was an investment advisor for 27 years before selling his practice to focus on ETF research and education. He is based in Weston, Florida. Contact him at  [email protected] and follow him on LinkedIn.