Few would likely cite the industrial sector as a standout through 2019. Given the ongoing 737 Max trouble faced by Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), the multi-year lows experienced by General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) and 3M (NYSE: MMM) and a slew of negative revisions from freight and logistics companies like Wabtec Corporation (NYSE: WAB), Landstar System, Inc. (NASDAQ: LSTR) and C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ: CHRW), you wouldn’t be faulted for believing the sector was one of the market’s chief laggards in 2019 alongside energy or materials.
But despite high-profile headwinds, the industrial sector was actually nearly on-pace with the broad market through 2019, with the Industrial Select Sector Index (IXI) posting a 26% gain compared to the broad market’s 30% climb. Benefitting from this growth are ETFs that follow the index like the Direxion Daily Industrials Bull 3X Shares (NYSE: DUSL), which closed out the year to hit new 52-week highs.
Now, with most of the major industrial names having closed the books on 2019, the sector is hoping to carry that momentum into 2020. However, guidance for the fiscal year has been scattered, with some like Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE: DAL) and Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU) posting optimistic forecasts while others like Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) or the aforementioned 3M foreseeing less robust growth ahead.
So while the broad industrial sector is posting some mixed signals thanks to the obscure global economic outlook, investors could instead navigate the market through some of its constituent industries.
Although Boeing has more than its share of trouble weighing on its stock price, its problems are unique when it comes to the rest of the defense contractors. The Direxion Daily Industrials Bull 3X Shares (NYSE: DUSL) is up more than 36% over the past six months.