Under The Radar ETFs With Big Inflows

Assets under management for these ETFs have doubled or more this year.

sumit
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Senior ETF Analyst
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Reviewed by: Sumit Roy
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Edited by: Sumit Roy

Anyone following the ETF industry knows about the record-breaking inflows this year. If you haven't been keeping up, year-to-date inflows are $274 billion as of July 31, according to the latest ETF.com monthly flows data, courtesy of FactSet.

That's just shy of the $287.5 billion worth of inflows seen during the entirety of 2016, which itself was an annual record.

Our monthly flows report also lists the top ETF asset gainers for the year, and it's chock full of familiar names. Every ETF in the top 10 is issued by iShares or Vanguard, and each has at least $15 billion in assets under management. You won't find any up-and-coming ETFs on that list.

Most of this year's inflows are going to just a handful of giant ETFs. As a recent FactSet report points out, a mere 20 funds captured half the inflows in 2017. That's astounding―and great news for those funds―but that still leaves the other 2,000 ETFs, whose flows don't garner nearly as much attention.

Here we'll shine a spotlight on some of those lesser-known ETFs. Each of the funds on this list has at least $100 million in assets, has seen sizable inflows in 2017 and is "interesting" to us.

Futuristic Tech ETFs In Vogue

Technology is the top-performing sector of the stock market this year. That strong performance has translated into growing enthusiasm for a few tech-themed ETFs, which focus on cutting-edge technology companies.

The Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (BOTZ) and the ROBO Global Robotics and Automation Index ETF (ROBO) are two of those funds. Just based on their names, these ETFs certainly capture the imagination, so it's easy to see why investors are quickly scooping them up.

Currently, BOTZ has $270 million in assets, compared with a mere $4 million at the start of the year. ROBO has assets of $856 million, compared with $135 million at the start of the year.

For investors interested in investing in futuristic tech stocks―and the high risk/high reward that comes with them―BOTZ and ROBO certainly fit the bill.

A third fund that fits that bill is the PureFunds ISE Mobile Payments ETF (IPAY), which saw its name change Tuesday to ETFMG Prime Mobile Payments. Mobile payments are a trendy theme, and investors have been taking notice; assets in the fund nearly tripled—from around $50 million to $150 million—over the course of the year.

 

TickerFundAUM At
Start Of
Year ($M)
AUM
Currently
($M)
Inflows
($M)
BOTZGlobal X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF4270245
ROBOROBO Global Robotics and Automation Index ETF135856625
IPAYPureFunds ISE Mobile Payments ETF5214674

 

 

Lesser-Known EM ETFs Gain Traction

Like tech, emerging markets has been a hot area of the markets this year, both in terms of performance and flows. The large ETFs in the emerging market space, such as the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG) and the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO), have unsurprisingly been big flow winners, but so too have a number of smaller emerging market funds.

Those include the PowerShares S&P Emerging Markets Momentum Portfolio (EEMO), the iShares Emerging Markets High Yield Bond ETF (EMHY), the Emerging Markets Internet & Ecommerce ETF (EMQQ), the J.P. Morgan Diversified Return Emerging Markets Equity ETF (JPEM) and the KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF (KWEB).

All of these funds hold emerging market equities, except EMHY, which focuses on emerging market high-yield bonds. With a yield-to-maturity of more than 6%, it's clear why investors have been scooping up this ETF in today's low-yield world.

 

TickerFundAUM At
Start Of
Year ($M)
AUM
Currently
($M)
Inflows
($M)
EEMOPowerShares S&P Emerging Markets Momentum Portfolio1331295
EMHYiShares Emerging Markets High Yield Bond ETF95494391
EMQQEmerging Markets Internet & Ecommerce ETF26221165
JPEMJ.P. Morgan Diversified Return Emerging Markets Equity ETF6016080
KWEBKraneShares CSI China Internet ETF203690330

 

Contrarian Commodity Signals

Another area offering high yield that's picked up assets quickly this year is Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs). The InfraCap MLP ETF (AMZA) and the Global X MLP & Energy Infrastructure ETF (MLPX) both hold MLPs, which are energy infrastructure companies that pay large distributions.

Assets under management (AUM) for both ETFs more than doubled this year. AMZA is actively-managed, with $471 million in assets, while MLPX tracks and index and has $303 million in assets.

Staying with the commodities theme, the Sprott Junior Gold Miners ETF (SGDJ) and the iShares MSCI Global Gold Miners ETF (RING) saw their AUM leap higher this year after a controversial index change in a rival gold miner ETF, the VanEck Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ), sapped demand for that multibillion-dollar product.

Meanwhile, the Global X Uranium ETF (URA) is a seldom-mentioned commodity fund where AUM ballooned from $127 million at the start of the year to $287 million currently. Based on these flows, perhaps some investors are anticipating a resurgence in commodity prices. 

 

TickerFundAUM At
Start Of
Year ($M)
AUM
Currently
($M)
Inflows
($M)
AMZAInfraCap MLP ETF173471353
MLPXGlobal X MLP & Energy Infrastructure ETF138303172
SGDJSprott Junior Gold Miners ETF46160106
RINGiShares MSCI Global Gold Miners ETF140376218
URAGlobal X Uranium ETF127287170

 

 

Unconventional Strategies

Rounding out this list of flows winners is a trio of unconventional ETFs. Two employ options overlay strategies: the Horizons Nasdaq-100 Covered Call ETF (QYLD) and the WisdomTree CBOE S&P 500 PutWrite Strategy Fund (PUTW). Both surpassed $100 million in AUM for the first time this year.

Then there's the JPMorgan Diversified Alternatives ETF (JPHF), an ETF that uses hedge-fundlike strategies to generate absolute returns. Assets in the fund nearly tripled this year, to $140 million currently.

 

TickerFundAUM At
Start Of
Year ($M)
AUM
Currently
($M)
Inflows
($M)
QYLDHorizons Nasdaq-100 Covered Call ETF5912764
PUTWWisdomTree CBOE S&P 500 PutWrite Strategy Fund31192154
JPHFJPMorgan Diversified Alternatives ETF5414086

Sources: FactSet, Bloomberg

At the time of writing, the author held none of the securities mentioned. Contact Sumit Roy at [email protected].

 

Sumit Roy is the senior ETF analyst for etf.com, where he has worked for 13 years. He creates a variety of content for the platform, including news articles, analysis pieces, videos and podcasts.

Before joining etf.com, Sumit was the managing editor and commodities analyst for Hard Assets Investor. In those roles, he was responsible for most of the operations of HAI, a website dedicated to education about commodities investing.

Though he still closely follows the commodities beat, Sumit covers a much broader assortment of topics for etf.com, with a particular focus on stock and bond exchange-traded funds.

He is the host of etf.com’s Talk ETFs, a popular video series that features weekly interviews with thought leaders in the ETF industry. Sumit is also co-host of Exchange Traded Fridays, etf.com’s weekly podcast series.

He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he enjoys climbing the city’s steep hills, playing chess and snowboarding in Lake Tahoe.