After broad markets put in a phenomenal 2013, bullish sentiment prevailed on Wall Street and with investors. With that bull run, however, came all-time highs and stock markets wading into uncharted waters. This has left some investors apprehensive about whether to buy into the market as they fear buying in at a top. Despite many assets sitting at highs, there are still plenty of opportunities for contrarian investors in 2014, as a handful of sectors and securities saw a less-than-successful 2013 .
Below, we outline four ETF plays for 2014 (in no particular order) that have a contrarian appeal and may have more room to run than broad benchmarks.
1. Market Vectors TR Gold Miners ETF
Gold and gold miners alike suffered a rough 2013, as this ETF lost more than 50% of its price. But after being beat down for the better part of two years, many feel that gold miners are nearing a bottom and an attractive entry point. Note that gold miners are often something of a leveraged play on gold, as the companies tend to move with gold but present high betas. That being said, this play would depend largely on whether or not gold is able to turn around its slide.
2. Emerging Markets ETF
Though VWO has had some impressive runs in its lifetime, 2013 was certainly not one of them. VWO lost 4.92% last year, its third worst annual performance since its inception. Major BRIC nations struggled with slowing growth and the bulls piled into developed markets, leaving the emerging world in the dust. In order to make a turnaround in 2014, VWO will need juggernauts like China and Brazil to pick up the pace, but it could also use a number of its smaller country holdings (Taiwan, South Africa, Mexico, etc) stepping up to the plate .
3. TIPS Bond ETF
Sooner or later, inflation is going to begin to pick up, especially after the years of money printing and quantitative easing. On top of that, Janet Yellen, who will assume the Fed Chair position on 2/1/2014, is a dove. That will mean that her focus will be more on lowering unemployment at the expense of rising inflation. If and when inflation picks up, TIP has the potential to rise, after losses of 8.5% last year.
4. U.S. Market Neutral Anti-Beta Fund
One of the more unique ETFs on the market, BTAL takes long positions in low beta stocks while shorting high beta stocks. This means that the fund will tend to underperform in bull markets and outperform in bear markets. BTAL has been in the dirt since its inception, as the relentless run-up on Wall Street has not rewarded the ETF’s strategy. However, with the Fed seemingly pulling the plug on its long-standing QE program and a bull run that has lasted nearly five years, there is a sense that 2014 could see a market correction. Should there be a pullback in broad benchmarks, BTAL will be there to reap the rewards.
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.