ETF TICKER OF THE YEAR
WINNER: ProShares Pet Care ETF (PAWZ)
While this is arguably one of our funnest categories, it may also be the most competitive, as this year’s crop of ETF ticker finalists reflects. With three animal-related tickers (PAWZ, GOAT, SWAN), a salute to military veteran (VETS), one of the first blockchain ETFs off of the (BLOK) and a socially responsible take on bond ETFs (GRBN), this was definitely a horse race.
But at the end of the stretch, PAWZ won hands-down for being such a new take on the investing world laser focused on our furry friends.
PAWZ is the first fund centered on companies related to pet ownership. To be selected, a stock must fit one of eight subindustries: pet food manufacturing, pet supplies manufacturing, pet and pet supply stores, veterinary pharmaceuticals, veterinary diagnostics, veterinary product distributors, veterinary services, and internet pet and supply retail.
The fund is tilted to U.S. companies, and pet health care is the biggest exposure by segment. Dechra Pharmaceuticals and IDEXX Labs are the top two holdings, comprising 20% of the fund.
In roughly four months, this thematic ETF has attracted $27 million in assets. With more than 65% of Americans owning pets and more than $60 billion spent on the space annually, PAWZ is not only a good ticker, but looks to have some ETF legs with an idea that is crystal clear and noncontroversial.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD
WINNER: VanEck Vectors Video Gaming and eSports ETF (ESPO)
Every year at the Inside ETFs conference, some of the best-known names in the ETF industry that are not affiliated with any issuer enter the ring for an epic showdown. Each participant selects an ETF launched during the previous year to champion, with the recipient of the loudest cheers at the end of the debate taking the “people’s choice” prize.
This year, the VanEck Vectors Video Gaming and eSports ETF (ESPO) bested a field of seven (which included one ETF series) to claim victory. And it’s not really a surprise—who could resist an ETF devoted to playing video games? Further, ESPO was championed by an industry stalwart, Bitwise Head of Global Research Matt Hougan, one of the driving forces behind the Inside ETFs conferences and former CEO of ETF.com, which no doubt leant some heft to his advocacy.
ESPO is a unique fund. Although there’s another ETF devoted to video game companies, ESPO has a twist. It targets the world of competitive video gaming: esports. So not only does it include companies that provide video game hardware and software, it holds companies involved in esport events such as those that operate leagues.
Interestingly, ESPO doesn’t include some giants in the esports space, like Microsoft and Amazon, because video games and esports don’t represent a large enough portion of their revenue. The fund aims to be a pure play, and only includes companies that derive at least half of their revenue from business activities related video games and esports.