War Drums: Three Top Defense ETFs as Tensions Boil with Iran


Minutes before attacking Iran, President Trump changed his mind in June 2019.

“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it,” Trump tweeted.  “Not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

Instead, the U.S. launched cyberattacks, targeting Iranian computer systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers.  While little is known about the scope of that attack, such cyber warfare could mark a new front in escalating tensions with Iran.

New Hard-Hitting Sanctions on Iran 

Shortly after, President Trump signed an executive order imposing “hard-hitting” new sanctions on Iran in response to the downing of an unmanned U.S. drone.  “We will continue to increase pressure on Iran until the regime abandons its dangerous activities,” which includes its nuclear ambitions, said Trump, as quoted by CNBC.“I can only tell you we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon.”

President Trump’s then threatened to “obliterate” Iran should they attack “anything American.” 

In fact, he tweeted, “Iran’s very ignorant and insulting statement put out today only shows they do not understand reality.  Any attack by Iran or anything American will be met with great and overwhelming forces.  In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.”

Should Iran and the U.S. inch closer to war, investors will pay close attention to defense ETFs.

Three Top Defense ETFs 

SPDR S&P Aerospace & Defense ETF (XAR)

The SPDR S&P Aerospace & Defense ETF seeks to provide investment results that, before fees and expenses, correspond generally to the total return performance of the S&P Aerospace & Defense Select Industry Index.  It has holdings in Axon Enterprise Inc., Textron Inc., and Orbital ATK Inc. for example.

iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF (ITA)

The iShares US Aerospace & Defense ETF invests in stocks in the domestic aerospace and defense sector. These stocks can include companies that manufacture both commercial and military aircraft as well as other types of defense-related equipment. It has holdings in Boeing, United Technologies Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman for example.

Power Shares Aerospace & Defense ETF (PPA)

The Invesco Aerospace & Defense ETF tracks a market-cap-weighted index of US-listed stocks involved in the defense, military, homeland security and space industries.  It has holdings in Boeing, United Technologies, Honeywell International, Raytheon, and General Dynamics.


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