Putting the ‘Fun’ Back in Exchange Traded Fund

Some people would venture while sports equal fun, sports betting equals more fun.  And there is an index for that too – the Solactive Sportwetten index, which “reflects the price movements of international companies that act as bookmakers for sports gambling and/or operate (online) media platforms for marketing sports gambling”. Now based on a very limited constituency, this one may be a bit trickier for ETF issuers to get on board with. While definitely not a 1:1 to a true sports betting ETF, an existing ETF that could be viewed in the same ilk is BJK (VanEck Vectors Gaming ETF), which has a predominant weighting to Casinos (and is one of the tops on the unofficial cool ticker list BJK = Blackjack).

Earlier I touched on the proliferation of ESG-focused ETFs. Again, while every person has their own definition of fun, I do not think it would be a stretch to say that there can be a bit of a no-fun lens put on these ETFs.  In addition, while there are benefits to ESG investing, there can also be benefits to investing in companies/industries that are excluded from said ESG filters.  An index that tracks a sampling of said companies would be the ISE SINdex, which “includes owners and operators of casinos and gaming facilities, producers of beer and malt liquors, distillers, vintners and producers of other alcoholic beverages, and manufacturers of cigarettes and other tobacco products.” Now ETF issues may be leery to create an ETF following this index, because an ETF was previously issued and closed that tracked said index (FocusShares ISE SINdex ETF). While not an indexed product, the mutual fund side of the equation has a similar type offering in VICEX (USA Mutuals Vice Fund) which offers the following to combat its anti-ESG tilt: Vice Fund is an investment, not a lifestyle choice. We offer a specific type of investment that has done historically well over the long-term.  And while only a subset of the aforementioned index, WSKY (ETFMG Whiskey and Spirits ETF) can get an investor access to some of these same companies.

While I mentioned only a limited set of what can be deemed as “fun” ETFs, one aspect that I did not touch on is the investment merits of said potential/existing ETFs. That was a bit purposeful, as 1) that sort of analysis is available via other sources and 2) that sort of analysis can be deemed boring, which I attempted to avoid at least this time around! Maybe next time I will get back to the quantitative number crunching, but for now, I will just float some ideas out there and leave it at that.

Clayton Fresk is a Portfolio Manager at Stadion Money Management, a participant in the ETF Strategist Channel.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments are subject to risk and any investment strategy may lose money. The investment strategies presented are not appropriate for every investor and financial advisors should review the terms and conditions and risks involved. Some information contained herein was prepared by or obtained from sources that Stadion believes to be reliable. There is no assurance that any of the target prices or other forward-looking statements mentioned will be attained. Any market prices are only indications of market values and are subject to change. Any references to specific securities or market indexes are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as specific investment advice and should not be relied on for making investment decisions. One cannot invest directly in indexes, which are unmanaged and do not incur fees or charges. Founded in 1993, Stadion Money Management is a privately owned money management firm based near Athens, Georgia. Via its unique approach and suite of nontraditional strategies with a defensive bias, Stadion seeks to help investors—through advisors or retirement plans—protect and grow their “serious money.” Contact Stadion at 800-222-7636 or www.stadionmoney.com. SMM-052017-458