U.S. Sector portfolio outlook, positioning, and attribution as of 3/31/2021

March 31, 2021


  • We expect the global economic recovery to continue in 2021, amid continued U.S. consumer strength and business investment as COVID-19 vaccinations help release pent-up demand in certain parts of the economy.
  • A variety of broad-based economic data series, including retail sales and manufacturing activity, have made sharp recoveries from the stringent stay-at-home orders in the first half of 2020.
  • We anticipate positive equity market returns this year as rising earnings expectations for cyclical stocks should offset a likely decline in valuation multiples, which is typical early in a cycle.
  • Even though economic and market risks remain, including potential for higher interest rates and higher taxes, we believe the economic recovery will continue to progress and an overweight of economically-sensitive sectors is appropriate.

Portfolio Positioning

  • Sector allocation will be increasingly important in 2021, in our view, as the ongoing recovery and expansion drive a rebound in earnings for cyclical sectors and areas of the economy hardest hit by the pandemic, such as retail, travel, and leisure.
  • Given our outlook for the U.S. economic expansion to continue in 2021, we are overweight more economically-sensitive sectors such as Financials, Industrials, and Energy, which should continue to benefit from early-phase cyclical tailwinds.
  • Over the past year, we have reduced exposure to less economically-sensitive sectors, most recently eliminating our Consumer Staples exposure, while seeking to balance opportunity against ongoing medical, political, and economic risks.
  • We also maintain exposures to sectors benefitting from positive secular trends, like Information Technology and Communication Services.

Q1 Attribution

Positive Contributors:


  • Energy
  • Financials


  • Information Technology
  • Consumer Staples

Negative Contributors:


  • Health Care


  • Materials
  • Real Estate

Attribution Analysis is relative to the S&P 500 benchmark and was current as of the date specified in this presentation. A complete attribution report is available upon request.

The most recent complete presentation can be viewed here.

Any portfolio characteristics, including position sizes and sector allocations among others, are generally averages and are for illustrative purposes only and do not reflect the investments of an actual portfolio unless otherwise noted. The investment guidelines of an actual portfolio may permit or restrict investments that are materially different in size, nature and risk from those shown. The investment processes, research processes or risk processes shown herein are for informational purposes to demonstrate an overview of the process. Such processes may differ by product, client mandate or market conditions. Portfolios that are concentrated in a specific sector or industry may be subject to a higher degree of market risk than a portfolio whose investments are more diversified.

Holdings, Sector Weightings, and Portfolio Characteristics were current as of the date specified in this presentation. The listing of particular securities should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell these securities. While these securities were among WestEnd Advisors’ U.S. Sector holdings at the time this material was assembled, holdings will change over time. There can be no assurance that the securities remain in the portfolio or that other securities have not been purchased. It should not be assumed that recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities presently in the portfolio. Individual clients’ portfolios may vary. Upon request, WestEnd Advisors will provide a list of all recommendations for the prior year.

Portfolio outlook, positioning, and attribution
Portfolio positioning intra-quarter
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