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ETF Focus: Worried about exposure to United Airline’s stock? Avoid these ETFs

April 11, 2017
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Shares of the airline-operator United declined on Tuesday, with about $400 million being wiped off the company’s market cap amid the fallout to its decision to drag a passenger off a flight over on Sunday.

If you don’t have shares in the company, United Continental Holdings Inc.

UAL, +0.16%

you may enjoy watching investors rush for the exits (the nearest ones may be behind them). However, even if you look to avoid single-stock risk by investing in diversified, exchange-traded funds, you may still have some exposure to the carrier, particularly as the viral video of the passenger’s ejection spreads across China, where the company garners its second biggest revenues.

Read:United Airlines CEO defends staff, calling ejected passenger ‘disruptive and belligerent’

United is a component in 139 exchange-traded funds, according to research firm XTF, and 5.8% of the company’s shares outstanding are held in ETFs.

While many of the funds that hold United are passive, meaning they own it because the company is a component of the index they track, it also features more heavily into ETFs with a more specific sector or strategic bias.

The fund with the heaviest exposure to United is the U.S. Global Jets ETF

JETS, +0.00%

which is narrowly focused on the airline industry. United makes up 12.2% of the fund, and is its second-largest holding, after Southwest Airlines (13.36%)

LUV, +1.02%

The fund was little changed on Tuesday.

United comprises about 8.05% of the First Trust Nasdaq Transportation ETF

JETS, +0.00%

and nearly 5% of the PowerShares Dynamic Leisure & Entertainment Portfolio

PEJ, +0.00%

United’s free-cash-flow levels qualified it for the Pacer U.S. Cash Cows 100 ETF

COWZ, -0.29%

where it makes up about 1.9% of the portfolio, the same weight it has in the AlphaClone Alternative Alpha ETF

ALFA, +0.00%a hedge-fund replicator fund.

The fund with the least exposure to United, even more so than the funds that don’t own it at all, is the QuantShares U.S. Market Neutral Momentum Fund

MOM, +0.00%

which shorts low-momentum stocks. Given the fund’s construction, United actually qualifies as a negative component in the fund, according to XTF, at minus 1.58%.

Shares of United fell sharply on Tuesday, but recovered later in the session, moving on volume of more than 14.5 million shares, a rate that is more than three times its 30-day average of 4.3 million.

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