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Moat Stocks Outperformed in Volatile 2022

January 11, 2023

Read Time 3 MIN

Though 2022 ended without a Santa Rally, strong stock selection contributed to the Morningstar Wide Moat Focus Index outperforming the S&P 500 Index for the year.

U.S. equity markets ended 2022 on a down note in December as the typical year-end Santa Rally failed to materialize and stocks could not maintain the positive momentum seen in October and November. December capped off a volatile year as investors dealt with a series of cascading concerns over rising interest rates to curb red-hot inflation, recession fears, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a resurgence of COVID-19 in China. These concerns led to a year in which previously high-flying mega-caps and growth tech stocks fell back down to earth and the S&P 500 saw its largest annual decline since the 2008 global financial crisis.

The Morningstar® Wide Moat Focus IndexSM (the “Moat Index” or “Index”) performed largely in line with the S&P 500 Index during the last month of the year (-5.45% vs. -5.76%, respectively). However, for the full 2022 calendar year, the Moat Index’s focus on attractively priced companies with durable competitive advantages served it well, as the Index outperformed the S&P 500 by over 500 basis points during the year (-13.08% vs. -18.11%, respectively). The outperformance in 2022 is attributable primarily to strong stock selection relative to the S&P 500 Index. Top contributors to performance for the full year were Cheniere Energy Inc. (LNG), Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) and Lockheed Martin (LMT).

Moat Index Positioning into 2023

The Moat Index underwent its quarterly review on December 16, 2022. Each quarter it systematically targets the most attractively priced U.S. wide moat companies. The December review resulted in six companies added and removed from the Index. Below are a few takeaways from this review and how the Index is positioned heading into the new year. View the full results of the most recent quarterly review here.

Growth Exposure Ticks Up

In line with the trend over the last few quarterly reviews, the Index’s growth exposure increased again this quarter. This notable trend may be attributed, in part, to the volatile 2022 market that slashed prices in many growth names previously viewed as too expensive for inclusion in the Index. A past blog touching on the Moat Index’s knack for capturing opportunity in volatile markets may be worth a revisit.

Growth and core style exposures in the Moat Index remain underweight relative to the S&P 500 Index, while value is a notable overweight following the December quarterly review.

Moat Index Style Exposures:
Style Current Exposure Rebalance Change Relative to S&P 500
Value 31.3% +0.1% +10.2%
Core 33.1% -1.5% -7.9%
Growth 35.6% +1.4% -2.0%

Source: Morningstar. As of 12/16/2022.

Sector Shifts and Relative Weights

This quarterly review the Index saw slight decreases in exposure to Health Care and Industrials following the removal of biopharmaceutical Gilead Sciences and the industrial conglomerate Honeywell International from the Index due to rich valuations. On the flip side, increased exposures were seen in the Utilities, Materials and Information Technology sectors.

From a relative sector weight perspective vs. the S&P 500, Industrials (+9.3%) and Information Technology (+6.8%) are the two largest sector overweights in the Moat Index following the quarterly review. Consumer Staples (-5.9%) and Energy (-5.0%) sectors exhibit the greatest underweights.

Moat Index Valuations Remain Attractive

As of December 16, 2022, the reconstituted Moat Index exhibited a weighted average Price/Fair Value ratio (P/FV) of 0.72, signaling a 28% discount to Morningstar’s assessment of fair value. This is in contrast to the S&P 500, which featured a weighted average P/FV ratio of 0.89 as of the same date.

Learn More During Our Quarterly Webinar

For more information on recent Moat Index performance, and to hear directly from Morningstar’s equity research team for their perspective on performance trends and the companies they cover, watch our quarterly moat investing webinar on January 10. Watch webinar here.

VanEck Morningstar Wide ETF (MOAT) seeks to replicate as closely as possible, before fees and expenses the price and yield performance of the Morningstar Wide Moat Focus Index.

Many of our MOAT clients have expressed interest in applying Morningstar’s moat investing philosophy to smaller market cap companies, which led us to launch the VanEck Morningstar SMID Moat ETF (SMOT). SMOT provides exposure to small- and mid-cap companies with sustainable competitive advantages and attractive valuations. To learn more, read our first SMOT monthly update: SMID Moat Index Starts Strong.

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Important Disclosures

Source for all data unless otherwise noted: Morningstar.

Fair value estimate: the Morningstar analyst's estimate of what a stock is worth. Price/Fair Value: ratio of a stock's trading price to its fair value estimate.

The information presented does not involve the rendering of personalized investment, financial, legal, or tax advice. Certain statements contained herein may constitute projections, forecasts and other forward looking statements, which do not reflect actual results, are valid as of the date of this communication and subject to change without notice. Information provided by third party sources are believed to be reliable and have not been independently verified for accuracy or completeness and cannot be guaranteed. The information herein represents the opinion of the author(s), but not necessarily those of VanEck.

This commentary is not intended as a recommendation to buy or to sell any of the sectors or securities mentioned herein. Holdings will vary for the MOAT ETF and its corresponding Index. For a complete list of holdings in the ETF, please click here:

An investor cannot invest directly in an index. Returns reflect past performance and do not guarantee future results. Results reflect the reinvestment of dividends and capital gains, if any. Certain indices may take into account withholding taxes. Index returns do not represent Fund returns. The Index does not charge management fees or brokerage expenses, nor does the Index lend securities, and no revenues from securities lending were added to the performance shown.

The Morningstar® Wide Moat Focus IndexSM was created and is maintained by Morningstar, Inc. Morningstar, Inc. does not sponsor, endorse, issue, sell, or promote the VanEck Morningstar Wide Moat ETF and bears no liability with respect to that ETF or any security. Morningstar® is a registered trademark of Morningstar, Inc. Morningstar® Wide Moat Focus IndexSM is a service mark of Morningstar, Inc.

Effective June 20, 2016, Morningstar implemented several changes to the Morningstar Wide Moat Focus Index construction rules. Among other changes, the index increased its constituent count from 20 stocks to at least 40 stocks and modified its rebalance and reconstitution methodology. These changes may result in more diversified exposure, lower turnover, and longer holding periods for index constituents than under the rules in effect prior to this date. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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An investment in the VanEck Morningstar Wide Moat ETF (MOAT®) may be subject to risks which include, among others, investing in equity securities, consumer discretionary, consumer staples, health care, industrials and information technology sectors, medium-capitalization companies, market, operational, index tracking, authorized participant concentration, no guarantee of active trading market, trading issues, passive management, fund shares trading, premium/discount risk and liquidity of fund shares, non-diversification and concentration risks, which may make these investments volatile in price or difficult to trade. Medium-capitalization companies may be subject to elevated risks.

An investment in the VanEck Morningstar SMID Moat ETF (SMOT) may be subject to risks which include, among others, equity securities, small- and medium-capitalization companies, consumer discretionary sector, financials sector, health care sector, industrials sector, information technology sector, market, operational, index tracking, authorized participant concentration, new fund, absence of prior active market, trading issues, passive management, fund shares trading, premium/discount and liquidity of fund shares, non-diversified, and concentration risks, all of which may adversely affect the Fund. Small- and medium-capitalization companies may be subject to elevated risks.

Investing involves substantial risk and high volatility, including possible loss of principal. An investor should consider a Fund's investment objective, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing. To obtain a prospectus and summary prospectus for VanEck Funds and VanEck ETFs, which contain this and other information, call 800.826.2333 or visit Please read the prospectus and summary prospectus for VanEck Funds and VanEck ETFs carefully before investing.

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