In the midst of trade tensions and geopolitical disputes, it is the cyclical sectors – communications services and energy are prime examples – that tend to suffer most. As investors, sector allocation is crucial to the wealth our portfolio creates and thus we are curious about the sectors that hold up the best during a market shakeout. Interestingly, the best performing S&P 500 sector in the current quarter as of Aug. 23, at 5.6 per cent, is a cyclical one – real estate – followed by information technology. For the Globe and Mail this week, we focused on the U.S. real estate sector, which is largely unaffected by tariff disputes and indeed benefiting from the current conditions of low unemployment and interest rates.
This strategy uses the Inovestor for Advisors platform to screen the S&P 500 real estate sector using the following criteria:
- A market capitalization of US$10-billion or more;
- A positive free-cash-flow-to-capital ratio. This ratio gives a sense of how well the company uses the invested capital to generate free cash flows, which could be used to do such things as stimulate growth, distribute or increase dividends, or reduce debt;
- A positive 12-month change in the economic value-added (EVA) metric – a positive figure shows us that the company’s profit is increasing at a faster and greater pace than the costs of capital. The EVA is the economic profit generated by the company and is calculated as the net operating profit after tax minus capital expenses;
- Economic performance index (EPI) greater than or equal to one. This is a key criterion as it represents the ratio of return on capital to cost of capital. An EPI greater than one indicates that the company is generating wealth for shareholders – for every dollar invested into the company, more than one dollar is generated in returns;