Despite the trials and tribulations experienced by these exchange traded funds over the years, including good and bad periods for gold, some investors love gold miners ETFs.

A combined $8.8 billion in assets under management for the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDX) and the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDXJ) says as much as does the fact that GDX, the largest miners ETF, is one of the most heavily traded exchange traded products in the U.S. In fact, GDX is one of the most-owned ETFs by hedge funds. [Hedge Funds Love These ETFs]

However, there are other ways to skin the gold miners ETF cat and at least one new fund helps investors skirt some of the industry’s weaker links. The Sprott Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: SGDM), which debuted in July, takes a different approach to investing in precious metals miners.

SGDM “is the first exchange-traded fund to weight miners on factors other than size. It starts with 25 stocks with “the highest gold beta,” i.e., sensitivity to gold’s price movements, ranks them by market capitalization, then adjusts the ranking based on the companies’ one-year revenue growth and debt-to-equity ratios, penalizing slow-growing overleveraged outfits and rewarding the opposite,” reports Lewis Braham for Barron’s.

SGDM tracks the Sprott Zacks Gold Miners Index, which seeks to emphasize gold stocks with the highest quarterly revenue growth measured on a year-over-year basis and stronger relative balance sheets as measured by long-term debt to equity,” according to Sprott. [New Miners ETF Debuts]

Investors have shown they like the idea of introducing fundamental weighting to a genre of the ETF market that has been dominate by cap-weighted products as it has taken SGDM just over three months to accumulate nearly $65 million in assets under management. That is no small feat because gold prices have been weak for a significant part of the ETF’s lifespan.

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