Depending on one’s perspective, 2014 was either another solid year for new exchange traded products or a tough year because so many new ETFs have struggled out of the gates.
Of the 204 ETFs that debuted this year, 92 have less than $10 million in assets under management and even if the AUM totals for those 92 funds are combined, they would still have fewer assets than the First Trust Dorsey Wright Focus 5 ETF (NasdaqGM: FV), reports Eric Rosenbaum for CNBC.
FV, which debuted in March, is by far this year’s most successful new ETF. The fund topped $1 billion in AUM in November and is now hoe to $1.3 billion in assets. [Focus 5 ETF Tops $1B in AUM]
As CNBC notes, many of this year’s new ETFs that have been slow to gain investor support are highly focused funds, international extensions of popular U.S.-focused ETFs or both. For example, the Global X Guru Index ETF (NYSEArca: GURU) has over $402.4 million in AUM, but its small-cap and international equivalents, the Global X Guru Small Cap Index ETF (NYSEArca: GURX) and the Global X Guru International Index ETF (NYSEArca: GURI), which debuted earlier this year, have just $4.2 million in combined assets, according to CNBC.
Likewise, international IPO ETFs and some yen hedged sector ETFs have struggled to gain a following. However, other niche ETFs have rapidly gained fans among investors.
The poster child for new niche ETF success this year is the PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF (NYSEArca: HACK). Not even two months old, HACK is flirting with $100 million in AUM as the fervor surrounding the hack of “The Interview” prompted prescient investors to evaluate money-making opportunities with the cyber security industry. [North Korea Hates This ETF]
HACK may be considered a niche ETF, but there is nothing nichey about the expected exponential growth of cyber security spending nor does HACK house a slew of unheard of stocks. Juniper (NasdaqGS: JNPR), Palo Alto Networks (NasdaqGS: PANW) Dow component Cisco Systems (NasdaqGS: CSCO) are among the ETF’s largest holdings.
The PowerShares Variable Rate Preferred Portfolio Fund (NYSEArca: VRP), the newest kid on the preferred ETF block, can also be described as a niche ETF because of its narrow focus on the preferred stock universe.
However, VRP’s concept is far from opaque. Rather, the ETF, which debuted in early May, takes the income-generating premise behind preferred stocks that has made several other ETFs popular and tilts it into a fund that is less vulnerable to rising interest rates than traditional preferred ETFS.
Variable-rate preferreds usually carry lower interest rates than fixed-rate preferreds of comparable credit quality. However, the trade-off there is an ETF such as VRP should be less sensitive to interest rate changes. VRP has hauled in $115.5 million in assets. [New Preferred ETF off to a Fast Start]