Nearly 60 ETFs hit new all-time highs on Tuesday. Some are well-known, heavily traded, multi-billion dollar funds. Others, well, not so much, but that obviously is not a bad thing. Just look at the Market Vectors Unconventional Oil & Gas ETF (NYSEArca: FRAK).
FRAK, which debuted in February 2012, has just $31.6 million, but that has not stopped the ETF from surging 25.5% year-to-date. By comparison, the broader Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE) and Vanguard Energy ETF (NYSEArca: VDE) are up an average of 18% this year. Those statistics indicate that the very thing FRAK was criticized for when it debuted, that being a narrow focus on a niche are of the energy sector, is actually helping the ETF outperform larger rivals. [ETFs for Soaring U.S. Oil Output]
Thanks to soaring output at shale formations in North Dakota, Texas and other states, U.S. oil output is surging and that is proving to be a boon for FRAK, an ETF explicitly focused on so-called unconventional sources of oil and gas. “Unconventional” includes shale and it is shale formations such as the Bakken and Eagle Ford that are helping U.S. oil production reach multi-decade highs. So dramatic has been the increase in U.S. oil output that China is expected to surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest oil importer in just a few years. [Shale Boom Resonates With ETFs]
For investors, the good news may be that although FRAK just reached a new all-time high, the shale boom is just starting in the eyes of some market observers. Improved technology and strong drilling activity should spark “significant oil production growth still to come in the key regions such as the Permian [Basin] … as well as the Eagle Ford, Bakken and Niobrara (Wattenberg),” Platts reported, citing Credit Suisse.
The bank said the U.S. shale revolution is “in the early innings,” good news for an ETF that allocates 23% of its weight to Occidental Petroleum (NYSE: OXY), Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC) and EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG). That trio is intimately levered to the U.S. shale revolution.
FRAK has one of the largest allocations to California-based Occidental of any ETF. However, FRAK’s Occidental position presents some risks. A vital element to the company’s future earnings growth is California’s Monterey Shale, which by some estimates is home to some of the largest oil reserves in the U.S. The issue is not only is oil proving hard to extract from the earth in Monterey, but California also recently passed the most stringent fracking laws in the U.S.
Market VectorsUnconventional Oil & Gas ETF
ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this article.