5 Biggest One-ETF-Hit Wonders

November 27, 2017

EMQQ, the firm behind the ETF by the same name, the Emerging Markets Internet & Ecommerce ETF (EMQQ)

EMQQ, the firm, is run by industry veteran Kevin Carter, and includes the likes of Burton Malkiel and Richard Kang on its advisory committee.

Also brought to market through third-party provider Exchange-Traded Concept, EMQQ, the ETF, has attracted some $364 million in assets. In 2017, the fund has delivered an impressive performance relative to some of the larger emerging market ETFs in a year where all eyes have been on international equities. A net of $271 million in assets flowed into EMQQ this year, landing it on many people’s radars. 



Innovator, the firm behind the Innovator brand, and the Innovator IBD 50 Fund (FFTY)

FFTY is an interesting fund that originally was designed as part passive/part active, picking 50 leading growth companies that trade on U.S. markets based on fundamental and technical ratings, and then reweighting this price-weighted index based on the portfolio manager's ranking system.

That original design seemed to be boding well for a strategy that, in just over two years, grew into a $230 million ETF. But last week, FFTY changed its strategy and went fully passive, tracking the IBD 50 Index. It isn’t a dramatic change in exposure, but it remains to be seen how that will impact its performance going forward, and how well investors take to it. 



Merk Investments, the issuer behind the VanEck Merk Gold Trust (OUNZ)

OUNZ first came to market in 2014, taking on giants like the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) and the iShares Gold Trust (IAU) as another physical gold ETF, but with a twist: OUNZ allowed investors of any size to take delivery of physical gold at any time for a fee. That delivery mechanism remains unique to OUNZ, and something that allows the fund to stand out against its peers.

Still, asset-gathering pace had been somewhat slow in early days, and in 2015, Merk partnered up with VanEck, which took the role of marketing agent for OUNZ. Today, OUNZ, which remains Merk Investments’ only ETF, has grown to $135 million in assets. 


Charts courtesy of StockCharts.com


The list of one-ETF companies goes on. There are more than 20 other emerging ETF issuers looking to conquer that $100 million milestone with their first and only ETFs.

Their efforts show that carving a niche in an increasingly crowded ETF market is a challenge, particularly in the face of companies with massive scale such as iShares, Vanguard and State Street Global Advisors. But it can be done with the right mix of innovation, price, distribution—and perhaps just a little bit of luck.

Contact Cinthia Murphy at [email protected]

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