First Trust Expands Thematic ETF Lineup With Equity And Innovation ETFs, EPRE & ILDR

On Wednesday, First Trust Advisors L.P., a leading ETF provider and asset manager, announced the launch of two new actively managed ETFs, the First Trust TCW ESG Premier Equity ETF (NYSE Arca: EPRE) and the First Trust Innovation Leaders ETF (NYSE Arca: ILDR).

EPRE seeks to provide long-term capital appreciation by investing primarily in U.S. equity securities, emphasizing large capitalization companies that meet ESG criteria, as determined by TCW Investment Management Company LLC (TCW), the fund’s sub-advisor. Meanwhile, ILDR seeks to provide capital appreciation by investing at least 80% of its net assets (plus any borrowings for investment purposes) in the common stocks of U.S. and non-U.S. companies that may benefit from the development or application of scientific and technological innovation.

The EPRE Advantage

ESG investing considers a company’s environmental, social, and governance factors via independent ratings to align investment strategies with personal values. TCW believes a focus on these factors can provide competitive advantages for a company. “The First Trust TCW ESG Premier Equity ETF is a highly active, concentrated portfolio of companies that prudently manage their environmental, social, and financial resources and generate consistent and growing levels of free cash,” said Joseph R. Shaposhnik, Portfolio Manager at TCW. “We strongly believe that utilizing ESG performance data helps us uncover better-managed businesses for the benefit of investors.”

TCW uses both qualitative and quantitative screening criteria to supplement its fundamental research and portfolio selection. The screening process focuses on companies whose shares are trading at below intrinsic value, as determined by TCW. The portfolio is selected using rigorous fundamental analysis and a quantitative ESG framework to drive the security selection and execution strategies.

“While many ESG strategies focus primarily on excluding stocks that score poorly on certain environmental, social, or governance metrics, we believe that professional management can add value. By leveraging the best thinking of the world-class team at TCW, this actively managed ETF provides another unique tool for investment professionals,” said Ryan Issakainen, CFA, Senior Vice President, ETF Strategist at First Trust.

Joseph R. Shaposhnik, the fund’s portfolio manager, is responsible for the fund’s day-to-day management.

Innovation Growth With ILDR

Rapid scientific and technological change is currently being applied to areas of innovation that First Trust considers fertile ground for seeking investment opportunities brought about by change. ILDR aims to outperform the broader markets by having outsized exposure to themes that are growing faster than the underlying economy. The fund invests in dominant companies that tend to be pioneers who may capitalize on disruptive innovation by developing technologies that can displace older technologies or create new markets.

“Thematic ETFs have exploded in popularity over the past year as investment professionals have sought tools to capture cutting‐edge trends from a range of industries,” said Ryan Issakainen, CFA, Senior Vice President, ETF Strategist at First Trust. “As a leader in thematic investing, we believe this actively managed ETF represents our expertise in identifying the most compelling opportunities that may lie among multiple themes.”

The fund is managed by First Trust Advisors L.P., with selection and portfolio decisions made by a team of portfolio managers. The securities included in the portfolio are chosen using a disciplined approach, leveraging the knowledge of First Trust’s equity research and portfolio management teams who understand the drivers of risk-adjusted returns. The fund combines both a top-down theme identification process and a bottom-up stock selection process to identify companies seeking solutions to the technological, industrial, and health problems of our age. This includes, but is not limited to, companies that we believe are poised to benefit from the development of new products or services, technological improvements, and/or advancements in scientific research related to automation, advanced medicine, networks, advanced computing, enhanced mobility, energy revolution, and e-commerce.

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