ETF Ticker Hall Of Fame—And Shame

December 30, 2014

Since we spend an awful lot of time being geeky and analytical here at ETF.com, I thought I’d have some fun during this short holiday week and poke a little fun at the ETF industry. After all, based on what we’re seeing with new ETF tickers, the industry we all love deserves to be made fun of at times.

 

With most of the global markets already covered, it seems issuers are increasingly searching for any angle to separate their new funds from existing products.

 

Clearly, new ETFs need an alluring or unique investment strategy. But part of the new marketing process might even include having an alluring ticker or one that is memorable.

 

Brilliant Or Cheesy?

For example, take ProShares’ two Aussie dollar leveraged ETFs that launched in July 2012—the ProShares Ultra Australian Dollar ETF (GDAY) and the ProShares UltraShort Australian Dollar ETF (CROC).

 

For those who didn’t get it, GDAY is meant to be a variation on “good day” and CROC as either “what a crock” or “crocodile.” I haven’t figured out which, but does it even matter?

 

I’m not sure what it is with Australia, but that country seems to be at the center of U.S. ETF ticker cheesiness. In my last blog about tickers, the IndexIQ Australia Small-Cap ETF (KROO | D-86), as in “kangaroo,” topped my list as the most ridiculous ETF ticker.

 

At this rate, why not just give your Australia ETF the ticker “DUND,” for Crocodile Dundee—arguably the most famous Australian outside of Australia? If you don’t believe me, think back to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, where he graced us with his presence on center stage for the opening ceremony.

 

Seriously, Australia, why do you do this to yourself?

 

While we’re at it, how about a Sweden ETF called IKEA or a Norway ETF called ELSA? I’m still waiting for a China ETF with the ticker PNDA, for “Panda.”

 

There’s probably going to be a Kazakhstan ETF launch in the future, but for any issuer out there, please don’t even think about giving it the ticker BRAT or BORT, for “Borat.” That would be the worst ticker in the history of the world, and any issuer even thinking of doing this should be banned from the industry.

 

But in all seriousness, these tickers certainly stand out. Furthermore, if it encompasses the investment theme of the ETF so investors remember, why not, right?

 

So maybe these issuers are achieving exactly what they set out to do; that is, attract attention and make them memorable.

 

For our 2015 ETF.com Awards, we even have a category this year for “ETF Ticker of the Year.” (By the way, for our newsletter subscribers, votes for Best New Ticker are due Dec. 31, so get them in as soon as possible.)

 

Back in May 2012, I put together a list of “best and worst” tickers. This time, I’m going to throw in 10 “memorable” tickers. You decide whether they’re brilliant or ridiculous, and I’ll throw in my thoughts on each.

 

Note: This list has nothing to do with the actual investment merits of the funds or whether they’re efficiently run ETFs. This is a shallow list simply based on ticker symbols and nothing else.

 

 

 

10 Memorable Tickers List

 

10. GIVE—AdvisorShares Global Echo ETF: Brilliant, as the socially responsible fund contributes a portion of its assets to Philippe Cousteau Jr.'s Global Echo Foundation.

 

9. FORX—PIMCO Foreign Currency Strategy ETF: It captures the fund’s investment thesis perfectly. I’m surprised this ticker hadn’t been picked up before.

 

8. BOND—PIMCO Total Return ETF: Another great ticker from PIMCO. It’s totally boring, but perfect for the ETF version of the world’s largest bond mutual fund.

 

7. NEAR—iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF: Is NEAR referring to the maturities in its basket, or is the end NEAR for the 30-year-old bond bull market? I love it.

 

6. NASH—LocalShares Nashville Area ETF: Makes me think of country music, even though NASH has nothing to do with country music and more to do with health care.

 

5. GURU—Global X Top Guru Holdings Index ETF: It’s perfect for an ETF that piggybacks on large hedge funds’ holdings, and makes you believe the “gurus” of the financial industry are running this fund.

 

4. HACK—PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF: No, HACK is not a biotech ETF targeting companies aiming to cure lung and throat diseases; hack—as in “hackers” and cybersecurity.

 

3. OUNZ—Merk Gold Trust: This gold ETF entered a crowded space, but separates itself with its “redeemable” gold feature and its clever ticker. Reminds me of another clever gold ETF ticker from iShares.

 

2. XSOE—WisdomTree Emerging Markets ex-State-Owned Enterprises ETF: This new emerging market ETF strips out state-owned enterprises. The ticker is about as perfect as it gets for its investment thesis. Well done, WisdomTree.

 

1. ROAR—IQ Asian Tigers ETF (in filing): I can’t decide whether this is brilliant or ridiculous, but I’m already annoyed with it because I’m still hung over from being forced to hear Katy Perry “Roar” a hundred times a day earlier in the year.

 

At the time this article was written, the author held no positions in the securities mentioned. Contact Dennis Hudachek at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @Dennis_Hudachek.

 

 

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