Investors Really got it Wrong With Nasdaq ETFs

It took just 15 years, but the Nasdaq Composite has reclaimed and surpassed the levels seen during the height of the dot-com boom.

The Nasdaq Composite is up 6.7% this year while the PowerShares QQQ (NasdaqGM: QQQ), the Nasdaq-100 (NDQ) tracking ETF, is not far behind with a year-to-date gain of 6.1%. If fund flows data are an accurate gauge, ETF investors could hardly care about the Nasdaq’s resurgence. At the very least, the data indicate investors, including professionals, have missed out on the Nasdaq-100’s rally.

Year-to-date, investors have pulled $2.69 billion from QQQ after having yanked $11.2 billion from the fund last year. Said differently, QQQ, still one of the world’s largest ETFs, has gained 27.2% since the start of 2014 and outperformed the S&P 500 by 900 basis points along the way, but has bled nearly $14 billion in assets over that period. [QQQ Heading Toward an Epic Breakout]

Let’s put into context the party foul that professional investors have committed by departing QQQ. Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL) and Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN) have each returned more than 50% over the past year. Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB) has surged 46.1%. Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT) is higher by 16% while Google (NasdaqGS: GOOG) is a by comparison laggard with a gain of 9.6%. Those are QQQ’s top five holdings, combining for 32.1% of the ETF’s weight.

QQQ has also benefited from its large healthcare exposure. In the case of a Nasdaq ETF, that means significant biotech exposure. Healthcare is QQQ’s third-largest sector weight at 15.4%. QQQ is home to nine biotech stocks, two of which, Gilead Sciences (NasdaqGS: GILD) and Amgen (NasdaqGS: AMGN), reside in the ETF’s top 10 holdings. [The Evolution of QQQ]

Investors have also skimped on allocations to other Nasdaq ETFs. For example, the Fidelity NASDAQ Composite Index (NasdaqGM: ONEQ), which tracks the Nasdaq Composite, has seen 2015 inflows of just $56.6 million this year.ONEQ tracks over 1,900 stocks taken from the Nasdaq Composite Index and is less top heavy than QQQ. Additionally, ONEQ includes Nasdaq-listed financial stocks.

The Direxion NASDAQ-100 Equal Weighted Index Shares (NYSEArca: QQQE) and the First Trust NASDAQ-100 Equal Weighted Index Fund (NasdaqGS: QQEW), the equal-weight equivalents of QQQ and admirable performers in their own rights with 2015 gains of 5.6% apiece, have seen combined inflows of just $80 million.