By Philip van Doorn, MarketWatch
The SPDR S&P Kensho Final Frontiers ETF focuses on spacecraft, launch vehicles, rockets and satellites
If you're an investor who doesn't want to miss out on the next big trend, you had better pay attention to what's going on in space.
When people think about the space business, they may be excited that on Saturday the U.S. finally regained the ability to send people into orbit. That's a matter of pride. NASA and SpaceX successfully launched two astronauts into Earth's orbit Saturday at 3:22 p.m. ET. Elon Musk, CEO of electric-car maker Tesla (TSLA), also is CEO of SpaceX, which isn't publicly traded.
More on the mission:SpaceX set to launch U.S. astronauts into space ()
Many investors don't take space seriously, despite watching technological developments lead to incredible growth for so many companies, and their shareholders, over the past several decades.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley expect the space industry's annual global revenue to exceed $1 trillion a year by 2040 (), from the current estimate of about $350 billion.
The SPDR S&P Kensho Final Frontiers ETF (ROKT) "seeks to cover all aspects of what space exploration can be," according to Matthew Bartolini, the head of SPDR Americas research at State Street Global Advisors.
In addition to investing in companies that produce spacecraft, launch vehicles, rockets, satellites, infrastructure and mission-support services, the ETF also invests in companies involved with deep-sea exploration.
An explanation of ROKT's passive strategy is below. Here's a list of all 24 of the ETF's holdings as of the market close May 28:
Company Ticker Industry Share of portfolio Total return - 2020
Maxar Technologies Inc. US:MAXR Aerospace & Defense 7.0% -6%
Raytheon Technologies Corp. US:RTX Aerospace & Defense 6.8% -23%
Teledyne Technologies Inc. US:TDY Aerospace & Defense 6.1% 7%
Lockheed Martin Corp. US:LMT Aerospace & Defense 6.0% 3%
L3Harris Technologies Inc US:LHX Aerospace & Defense 5.7% 0%
Northrop Grumman Corp. US:NOC Aerospace & Defense 5.7% 0%
CACI International Inc Class A US:CACI Information Technology Services 5.5% 0%
Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. US:AJRD Aerospace & Defense 5.2% -4%
Mercury Systems Inc. US:MRCY Electronic Equipment/Instruments 5.1% 28%
Heico Corp. US:HEI Aerospace & Defense 4.8% -9%
Ball Corp. US:BLL Containers/Packaging 4.4% 9%
BWX Technologies Inc. US:BWXT Electric Utilities 4.1% 3%
Analog Devices Inc. US:ADI Semiconductors 3.8% -6%
Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. US:J Engineering & Construction 3.8% -6%
Amphenol Corp. Class A US:APH Electronic Components 3.6% -12%
General Dynamics Corp. US:GD Aerospace & Defense 3.3% -15%
TransDigm Group Inc. US:TDG Aerospace & Defense 3.0% -23%
ESCO Technologies Inc. US:ESE Aerospace & Defense 2.9% -10%
TTM Technologies Inc. US:TTMI Electronic Components 2.6% -23%
Hexcel Corp. US:HXL Aerospace & Defense 2.6% -51%
Boeing Co. US:BA Aerospace & Defense 2.5% -54%
Moog Inc. Class A US:MOG.A Aerospace & Defense 2.0% -35%
TechnipFMC PLC US:FTI Oilfield Services/Equipment 1.6% -63%
Standex International Corp. US:SXI Miscellaneous Manufacturing 1.0% -29%
Ducommun Inc. US:DCO Aerospace & Defense 0.7% -36%
You can click on the tickers for more about each company.
Bartolini, in an interview, said some of the same technologies developed for deep-sea exploration will be used in asteroid mining and planetary exploration. He pointed to Department of Defense budgeting, where expects "specific carve-outs" for deep-sea exploration.
The SPDR S&P Kensho Final Frontiers ETF tracks the S&P Kensho Final Frontiers Index. Kensho was acquired by S&P Global Market Intelligence in 2018. Kensho created the natural-language algorithm that scans companies' filings to identify which ones should be included in the index. The screening not only looks for key words, but also for their placement to make sure industry selections are appropriate.
Bartolini explained that after the screening, the index is "built by overweighting the core companies," such as Boeing Co. (BA) and Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), "which are very much involved in space exploration." The index, and the ETF, place a lower weighting on what Bartolini calls "ancillary plays" such as Ball Corp. (BLL), which makes packages used for aeronautical food and beverages.
So the ETF's portfolio is meant to be "expansive and exhaustive," Bartolini said.
The fund is rebalanced twice a year, with core stocks making up 60% of the portfolio, equally weighted, while the remaining 40% is in the ancillary stocks, also equally weighted.
"There will be some drift due to market performance," Bartolini said, pointing to Ball Corp.'s outperformance and the painful decline in Boeing's shares.
He added that ROKT's weighting approach might be better than traditional weighting by market capitalization, because it captures "the diversified space, while lowering concentration risk."
Contrast with UFO
In November, I reviewed the Procure Space ETF (UFO) and was surprised to see it was heavily invested in the broadcasting, cable/satellite TV, telecommunications and telecom-equipment industries, which now make up 67% of that portfolio, according to FactSet. (You can read about UFO here ( ).)
In contrast, 64% of the ROKT ETF comprises aerospace and defense companies, according to FactSet.
This isn't to say one ETF is better than the other. After all, UFO is focused on businesses that use satellites in orbit. Then again, the use of satellites doesn't necessarily mean you have a cutting-edge business. Dish Network's (DISH) pay-TV subscribers were down 6% year-over-year through March 31.
Both ETFs are fairly new, with ROKT established in October 2018 and UFO in April 2019. ROKT fell 13% for 2020 through May 28, while UFO dropped 24.5%. In comparison, the S&P 500 Index was down 6.2%.
ROKT doesn't hold any stocks in the broadcasting, cable/satellite TV, telecommunications or telecom equipment industries.
-Philip van Doorn; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 02, 2020 07:50 ET (11:50 GMT)
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