Van Eck seems to have found its space in the exchange traded fund (ETF) industry. The roughly 50-year-old firm offers a lineup of ETFs that give exposure to unique segments of the marketplace.

Van Eck now manages about $9.7 billion in assets. Their varied lineup includes about 20 funds that range from gambling companies to alternative energy to the Persian Gulf, reports Ian Salisbury for The Wall Street Journal.

Their strategy involves “nibbling at the edges”  which enables them to offer products that dabble in niche markets that generally aren’t available elsewhere. While both Van Eck and the fund industry giants with which it competes offer narrowly focused funds, the giants tend to offer slates of ETFs that, taken together, cover the entire market. (ETF portfolio basics).

Van Eck’s offerings don’t cover the spectrum, though. They have funds that cover steel, Russia and the gold mining industry, but you won’t find funds aimed at Japan or Western Europe. What most of their ETFs do have, as the company says, is some kind of relationship to “hard assets.” (The benefits of hard assets).

For more stories about ETFs, visit our ETF 101 category.

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