- Ten ETFs that launched in 2021 have gathered more than $7 billion combined year-to-date, supporting CFRA’s view that investors are not reliant on a three-year track record to assess a fund’s merits.
- The Horizon Kinetics Inflation Beneficiaries ETF (INFL) launched in January and was approaching $700 million in assets without the benefit of initial institutional investors at the end of August.
- The ETF owns capital-light companies such as Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) and Wheaton Precious Metals (WPM) that management thinks can grow revenues during rising inflation without a similar increase in expenses.
Investors are not waiting three years before buying a new ETF. In the first eight months of 2021, U.S.-listed ETFs gathered approximately $600 billion in assets, according to CFRA data.
While most of the money has moved into well-established products like the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index ETF (VTI) and the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV), many products that began trading as new offerings this year have also been popular.
Indeed, excluding funds from Dimensional that converted to ETFs from preexisting mutual funds, 10 new ETFs alone gathered a combined $7.5 billion.
Unlike with a mutual fund, investors can easily look at the securities inside most new ETFs the first day of trading to understand the exposure the fund provides rather than wait to see how it performs over the long term. CFRA provided ratings on just over 2,000 equity and fixed income ETFs at the end of August, with one-third of them sporting less than a three-year track record.
Largest Net Inflows For ETFs Launched In 2021
|Fund||Ticker||Asset Manager||Launch Date||AUM ($M)|
|Vanguard Ultra-Short Bond ETF||VUSB||Vanguard||April 2021||1,511|
|BlackRock U.S. Carbon Transition Readiness ETF||LCTU||BlackRock||April 2021||1,468|
|Invesco S&P 500 QVM Multi-Factor ETF||QVML||Invesco||June 2021||793|
|Horizon Kinetics Inflation Beneficiaries ETF||INFL||Horizon Kinetics||January 2021||676|
|BlackRock World ex U.S. Carbon Transition Readiness ETF||LCTD||BlackRock||April 2021||613|
|ARK Space Exploration & Innovation ETF||ARKX||ARK Funds||April 2021||608|
|iShares Gold Trust Micro||IAUM||BlackRock||June 2021||595|
|JPMorgan ActiveBuilders Emerging Markets Equity ETF||JEMA||JPMorgan||March 2021||323|
|Cabana Target Leading Sector Moderate ETF||CLSM||Cabana ETF||July 2021||240|
|VanEck Social Sentiment ETF||BUZZ||VanEck||March 2021||223|
Source: CFRA ETF Database as of 8/31/2021. Excludes Dimensional Funds that were converted from existing mutual funds.
New entrant Horizon Kinetics garnered attention alongside the top providers. ETFs from three of the four largest ETF firms—the BlackRock U.S. Carbon Transition Readiness ETF (LCTU), the Invesco S&P 500 QVM Multi-Factor ETF (QVML) and the Vanguard Ultra-Short Bond ETF (VUSB)—are at the top of the leaderboard for most successful new ETFs thus far in 2021.
While VUSB’s assets climbed steadily throughout 2021, likely aided by Vanguard’s strong ETF presence, LCTU and QVML were jump-started with significant investments by anchor institutional clients on the first day of trading.
In contrast, Horizon Kinetics’ $676 million INFL, which gathered $130 million between June and August after gathering more than $500 million as of the end of May, remains the firm’s lone ETF offering.
INFL offers a unique, compelling twist on dealing with inflation. As inflation in the U.S. has climbed higher in 2021, investors have gravitated to inflation-protected fixed income ETFs. Indeed, led by the iShares TIPS Bond ETF (TIP) and the Vanguard Short-Term Inflation-Protected Securities ETF (VTIP), the subcategory gathered $25 billion of net inflows in the first eight months of 2021.
Yet James Davolos, portfolio manager of INFL, explained to CFRA in an exclusive interview that with interest rates currently so low and a flat yield curve, the best-case scenario for these fixed income instruments is that the securities preserve capital while everything is collapsing.
Instead, INFL holds shares of global companies that have exposure to hard assets in inflationary end markets with capital-light business models.
According to Davolos, these companies do not need to spend a lot of money to earn their returns, providing them with operating leverage and eliminating the need to make a directional bet on inflation.
While he thinks inflation is going to be structural and not transitory, Davolos noted that the fund has exposure to companies in the agriculture, brokerage, gold and health care industries, which have already reset at higher levels of pricing in 2021.
The ETF’s largest holdings include ADM, Charles River Laboratories (CRL), Marsh & McLennan (MMC) and WPM. While INFL is actively managed, turnover in the fund’s first year has been relatively low.
(Use our stock finder tool to find an ETF’s allocation to a certain stock.)
CFRA has a four-star rating on INFL, believing it has high reward potential in addition to relatively limited risks.
Like INFL investors, we do not think a three-year track record is necessary to assess the fund.
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