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Tickers in this Article: SPY, IYT, BNI, FDX, UNP
Financials are struggling and leading the fall of the broader market as seen with the SPDRs S&P 500 Index ETF (AMEX:SPY) which has dropped more than 15% since the beginning of the year, but the vital role transportation stocks play in the U.S. economy remains intact.

Investors looking for a non-financial area should consider the iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average ETF (AMEX:IYT). Let's take a closer look at this exchange-traded fund's top three holdings. (To give your portfolio the punch it needs, read Singling Out Sector ETFs.)

Passing the Buck
Burlington Northern Sante Fe Corp
(NYSE:BNI) is IYT's largest holding at 10.84%. Burlington is sensitive to diesel fuel prices since it directly impacts the cost of running its 32,000-route miles transportation business; it does, however, utilize fuel surcharges as a way to compensate for the higher fuel prices. Burlington is taking advantage of tax incentives in the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 by speeding up capital projects and by purchasing new locomotives for the future. For the second quarter of 2008, Burlington saw a combined 16% increase in revenue due to greater sales in each of its transportation segments including consumer good, industrials, coal and agriculture over the same period a year ago.

On Time Delivery
FedEx's
(NYSE:FDX) attention to delivering time-sensitive material has earned it the second largest position in the index at 9.79%. FedEx has plans to grow along with emerging markets in China and India. FedEx also currently has an agreement to provide air transportation services to the U.S. Postal service. The slowdown in the U.S. economy mixed with higher fuel prices and impairment charges related to the absorption of Kinko's Copy Centers pushed its operating margin down to 5.5% despite an 8% increase in revenues to $38 billion.

More Rails to cover
Railroad freight company Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP) rounds out IYT's top three holdings at 8.76%. Despite heavy flooding in the Midwest in June of this year, strong demand for agriculture, energy and chemicals helped Union Pacific increase revenue by 12% to $8.8 billion for the first six months of the year over the same period a year ago.

Final Thoughts
IYT initially attracted me when I realized it had fallen only -2.37% on the same day the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 500 points or -4.42%. As I dug deeper, I realized the index was actually up 9.7% since the beginning of the year. IYT's combination of railroad, air delivery, ocean transportation and trucking companies dedicated to transporting industrial and consumer goods has proved to be a sector of safety.

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