The 5 Best AI ETFs by 2023 Performance

The 5 Best AI ETFs by 2023 Performance

AI exchange-traded funds are having a stellar year, delivering returns of as much as 75%.

sumit
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Senior ETF Analyst
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Reviewed by: Lisa Barr
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Edited by: Lisa Barr

Artificial intelligence isn’t just a buzzword. Exchange-traded funds tied to AI are having a stellar year, delivering returns of as much as 75% this year. 

There is around two dozen of these artificial intelligence ETFs trading in the U.S. today as investing in AI has become a major theme in capital markets in 2023. All but three of them are sporting year-to-date gains.  

Best AI ETFs: YTD Performance 2023

The best AI ETFs in 2023 primarily consist of funds with top holdings in companies that support the growth of AI technology or leverage artificial intelligence in various forms. AI stocks consistently appearing in the top performing AI ETFs include mega caps like Nvidia, Microsoft and Alphabet. Interestingly, there are no AI-powered ETFs among the top performers.

Robo Global Artificial Intelligence ETF (THNQ)  

The Robo Global Artificial Intelligence ETF (THNQ) is the fifth-best-performing AI ETF with a year-to-date gain of 30.7%. This fund holds a global basket of AI-related stocks, which currently have weights within the portfolio of anywhere from 0.5% to 2.7%. 

The fund’s mandate is to buy stocks of companies that are “developing the technology and infrastructure enabling AI, such as computing, data and cloud-services, as well as companies that apply AI in various verticals, from business processes to e-commerce and healthcare, among others.”   
   
The result is a basket of 69 stocks that includes Nvidia, Advanced Micro Devices, Alphabet and Pure Storage.  

Jeremie Capron, director of research and managing partner with ROBO Global, recently sat down with etf.com to discuss this ETF. Check out this podcast to learn more.  

Global X Artificial Intelligence & Technology ETF (AIQ) 

The Global X Artificial Intelligence & Technology ETF (AIQ) is 2023’s fourth-best-performing AI ETF, with a return of 31.8%. 

This is another fund that holds a global basket of stocks across industries. AIQ tracks a modified-market-cap-weighted index that caps its constituents at 3%.  

The ETF’s index, the Indxx Artificial Intelligence & Big Data Index, is designed to track the performance of companies “that are positioned to benefit from the development and utilization of Artificial Intelligence technology in their products and services, as well as companies that produce hardware used in Artificial Intelligence applied for the analysis of Big Data.”   
   
Top holdings in the ETF currently include Nvidia Corp, Meta Platforms, Tesla Inc, Microsoft Corp. and Salesforce Inc. 

TrueMark Technology, AI & Deep Learning ETF (LRNZ) 

Unlike THNQ and AIQ, the Listed Funds Trust TrueMark Technology AI & Deep Learning ETF (LRNZ) is an actively managed ETF. 

The ETF holds what the fund manager considers stocks of companies that “possess innovative AI and Deep Learning solutions that represent a distinct competitive advantage in a particular industry.”   
   
The ETF’s portfolio is intended to be made up of a concentrated basket of 20 to 30 stocks, which makes its position sizes much larger than the aforementioned THNQ and AIQ. 

For instance, Nvidia makes up nearly 9% of the ETF; Snowflake makes up more than 7%; and Advanced Micro Devices makes up just under 7% of the fund. 

LRNZ is the third-best-performing AI ETF this year, with a 34.9% return. 

Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (BOTZ) 

Another Global X fund to find itself among the top performers is the Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (BOTZ), which is up 35.4% so far this year.  

Unlike AIQ, which is focused on AI, BOTZ has a broader portfolio that encompasses robotics too. The underlying index, the Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index tracks companies involved in “Industrial Robotics and Automation, Non-Industrial Robots, Artificial Intelligence and Unmanned Vehicles.” 

Like AIQ, BOTZ tracks a modified-market-cap-weighted index, but individual stocks can be weighted as high as 8% in the portfolio. 

As of today, the top holdings in the ETF are Nvidia, Intuitive Surgical, Keyence, ABB Ltd and Fanuc Corp. 

Direxion Daily Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, & Automation Index Bull 2X Shares (UBOT) 

The best performing AI ETF of 2023 so far is the Direxion Daily Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, & Automation Index Bull 2X Shares (UBOT). This fund tracks exactly the same index as BOTZ, but it’s a 2x leveraged fund, making it much more volatile. 

That volatility has benefited the ETF this year, helping to fuel a gain of 75.8%. 

Keep in mind that UBOT is rebalanced daily means that its longer-term returns can deviate significantly from what investors might expect given the 2x advertised leverage factor. Click here to learn more.  

AI-Powered ETFs Lagging in 2023

One thing you’ll notice about the five best-performing AI ETFs in 2023 is that no AI-powered ETFs made the cut. AI-powered ETFs pick and choose which stocks to buy based solely or in part on AI models. By comparison, these funds haven’t performed as well as their human-managed rivals. 

The top performer among the AI-powered ETFs is the VanEck Social Sentiment ETF (BUZZ), with a 27.7% gain. 

BUZZ uses AI to help pick 75 large cap U.S. stocks which “exhibit the highest degree of positive investor sentiment and bullish perception based on content aggregated from online sources including social media, news articles, blog posts and other alternative datasets.”   
   
Meanwhile, the Qraft AI-Enhanced Large Cap Momentum ETF (AMOM), which uses AI to identify momentum stocks, and the WisdomTree International AI Enhanced Value Fund (AIVI), which does the same for international value stocks, have gained 11% and 9%, respectively, this year. 

List of Best AI ETFs 2023

For a full list of this year’s best-performing AI ETFs, see the table below: 

TickerFundYTD Return
UBOT Direxion Daily Robotics Artificial Intelligence & Automation Index Bull 2X Share+75.75%
BOTZ Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF+35.38%
LRNZ Listed Funds Trust TrueMark Technology AI & Deep Learning ETF+34.87%
AIQ Global X Artificial Intelligence & Technology ETF+31.84%
THNQ Robo Global Artificial Intelligence ETF+30.74%
LOUP Innovator Deepwater Frontier Tech ETF+29.93%
WTAI Wisdomtree Artificial Intelligence And Innovation Fund+29.88%
IQMFranklin Intelligent Machines ETF+29.31%
BUZZ VanEck Social Sentiment ETF+27.65%
QTUM Defiance Quantum ETF+25.33%
ROBT First Trust Nasdaq Artificial Intelligence and Robotics ETF+23.74%
IRBO iShares Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Multisector ETF+23.42%
AMOM Qraft AI-Enhanced US Large Cap Momentum ETF+10.60%
QRFT Qraft AI-Enhanced US Large Cap ETF+8.99%
AIVI WisdomTree International AI Enhanced Value Fund+8.79%
KOMP SPDR S&P Kensho New Economies Composite ETF+6.14%
AIEQ AI Powered Equity ETF+4.72%
GAST Gabelli Automation ETF+4.64%
OAIE Optimize AI Smart Sentiment Event-Driven ETF+2.90%
LETB Advisorshares Let Bob AI Powered Momentum ETF+1.61%
AIVL WisdomTree US AI Enhanced Valu-3.41%
DUDE Merlyn AI SectorSurfer Momentum ETF-3.88%
NVQ Qraft AI-Enhanced US Next Value ETF-7.48%
AIDB Qraft AI-Pilot US Large Cap Dynamic Beta Etf--
CHAT Roundhill Generative AI & Technology ETF--

Source: Bloomberg. List includes all ETFs with “artificial intelligence,” “AI” or “machine learning” in their description.   

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.