Not Everyone is Seduced by Internet ETFs

January 9th at 10:00am by Todd Shriber

“Good” does not adequately describe the performance of Internet and social media exchange traded funds in 2013.

No, “good” does not suffice when the three largest Internet and social media ETFs posted an average gain of almost 61%, nearly double that of the S&P 500. Returns like that generate plenty fans – and chasers – but not everyone on Wall Street is smitten with Internet stocks and the ETFs that hold those stocks.

For example, S&P Capital IQ is bullish on the fundamental outlooks for the Internet software and services and Internet retail sub-sectors. The research firm also holds a constructive view on the high-flying Chinese Internet space. [China ETFs for Exposure to Mobile Gaming]

Still, there are concerns. “However, valuations can be and often are a concern,” said S&P Capital IQ in a new research note. S&P Capital IQ has strong sell ratings on online music provider Pandora (NYSE: P) and Vistaprint (NasdaqGM: VPRT).

With a market value of almost $6.4 billion, Pandora is firmly entrenched in mid-cap territory, but only the Global X Social Media Index ETF (NasdaqGS: SOCL) offers a decent allocation to the stock with a weight of 5.1%.

S&P has an underweight rating on the $128.5 million SOCL, a tepid view considering the ETF jumped to a new all-time Wednesday, has a strong technical outlook and has fought off Twitter’s (NYSE: TWTR) recent decline with aplomb. [Social Media ETF Trumps Twitter]

China accounts for 29% of SOCL’s weight and that could serve as a catalyst for the ETF going forward. Investors looking for pure play exposure to Chinese Internet stocks can consider the KraneShares CSI China Internet Fund (NasdaqGS: KWEB). S&P also rates KWEB underweight, although the fund is up more than 35% since its Aug. 1, 2013 debut. [A Skeptical View of China Internet ETFs]

KWEB jumped 3.2% on volume that was seven times the daily average on Wednesday. The ETF’s top-10 holdings include Tencent, Baidu (NasdaqGM: BIDU) and Sina (NasdaqGM: SINA).

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