Calling it one of his favorite ETFs, Ari Wald, head of technical analysis at Oppenheimer & Co., says the QQQ is a buy. The ETF, which tracks the Nasdaq 100 Index, is up nearly 18 percent year-to-date.
"I do love the QQQ here," said Wald.
A 15-year chart of the relative strength of the QQQ makes the case to go long, according to Wald. That chart is made by taking the QQQ's price and dividing it by the price of the S&P 500. When the chart moves higher, that means the QQQ is outperforming the broad market index. Likewise, when it moves down, the QQQ is a laggard.
From 2000 to 2002, the QQQ fell precipitously relative to the S&P 500. Wald sees the subsequent period as a time ETF built a base of support. "Now it's really broken out to the upside, retracing that stark underperformance from 2000 to 2002," he said. "Over the coming years, I think that it continues to retrace that. I think this remains leadership."
Wald's chart shows that the QQQ relative to the S&P 500 recently broke above a four-year resistance line. He said that indicates a gain in momentum. As it occurred within what he sees as an uptrend channel, Wald expects more positive moves ahead.
"I think QQQ continues to lead the way higher," he said.
However, David Seaburg, head of sales trading at Cowen and Company, is not a fan of the QQQ, which holds the 100 largest non-financial companies in the Nasdaq. Instead, he thinks small caps are a better buy.
"Small caps are going to continue to run," Seaburg said. "The QQQ is going to trade higher. But from a performance perspective, as far as closing that performance gap, I think the small caps are what you want to own going into the end of the year."
Seaburg is bullish on small caps for several reasons. He believes the stronger dollar is going to negatively impact larger companies with more foreign exposure than small caps. And he sees small caps as a contrarian buy because they have been underperforming large cap stocks in 2014.
On a year-to-date basis, the small cap Russell 2000 is almost flat compared to the S&P 500's gain of 11 percent.
"I like the smaller-cap names here versus the QQQ," he said. "I think they're going to outperform into the end of the year."