How to Sort Out the 'Niche' ETF Sectors | ETF Trends

The world of exchange traded funds (ETFs) provides so many choices and sometimes, finding a particular sector ETF becomes daunting. But this short list should help narrow it down for you.

Specialty-sector ETFs, or “thematic” ETFs, have become a hit with investors, covering more than 40 unique themes in the market with more than $10 billion in assets under management, according to IndexUniverse.

While some consider thematic ETFs “gimmicky” and believe these forms of ETFs are only popular when the media is hyping the sector, they have their advantages and an investor should be aware that such options are available.

Specialty ETFs can help round out a portfolio and allow investors to take advantage of different segments of the market. To spot opportunities, watch the trend lines.

Alternative energy. Skyrocketing energy prices have brought more investor interest to all sorts of energy investments. The largest alternative energy ETF is PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio (NYSE Arca: PBW), currently up 23.4% year-to-date, with $743 million in assets under management. PBW is more focused on U.S.-listed companies.


Coal. The cheapest energy source of BTUs. Ever-increasing oil prices are encouraging the development of the coal. The largest coal ETF is Market Vectors Coal ETF (NYSE Arca: KOL), currently up 1.3.4% with $277 million in assets. KOL primarily includes mid-cap miners, weighted 49% in U.S. companies, 23% in China and 15% in Indonesia.