Best/Worst Weekly ETF Returns: Solar ETFs Rise

December 14, 2012

The sun shined bright on solar ETFs this past week, but the lights were dimmed on natural gas funds.

The Guggenheim Solar ETF (NYSEArca: TAN) and the Market Vectors Solar Energy ETF (NYSEArca: KWT) were the best-performing ETFs in the past week ended Thursday, benefiting from a successful initial public offering of a major U.S. solar panel installer as well as from increased Chinese support of the industry.

The $48.8 million TAN rose 14.7 percent while KWT, which has $11 million in assets, climbed 14 percent. The gains came as the Dow Jones industrial average tagged on 96 points, or rose 0.73 percent in the five-day period ended Dec. 13.

For solar energy enthusiasts, the recent run-up was a welcomed reprieve from what has been one long year of losses in solar funds, as the segment faces collapsing prices while output capacity grows.

Year-to-date, both TAN and KWT have bled roughly a third of their value, and those losses look even steeper on an annual chart. TAN has lost 40 percent in the past year, while KWT is off by 37 percent.

SolarCity's IPO, one of Silicon Valley's largest U.S. installers of residential solar panels, and news that China would increase its investment in the solar industry this year pushed the ETFs higher.

The $121.8 million PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (NYSEArca: PBW) was another strong performer, with gains of 4.7 percent and total trading volume of more than 2.15 million shares.

Choking On Methane

On the flip side, natural gas strategies were among the worst-performing funds of the week, with the United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSEArca: UNG) leading the pack, with losses of more than 8.4 percent.

UNG's decline came accompanied by hefty trading volume—nearly 10 million shares of the fund, on average, changed hands every day last week.

The $1.16 billion ETF wasn't the only natural gas strategy to give in to the pressures of a growing stockpile of supplies as the U.S. winter-driven demand gets off to a slow start due to mild weather.

Indeed, natural gas prices slipped more than 5 percent this past week, even if many are looking for an uptick in demand in the week ahead on forecasts for colder weather across much of the country.

The Teucrium Natural Gas Fund (NYSEArca: NAGS) and the United States 12 Month Natural Gas Fund (NYSEArca: UNL) each shed nearly 6 percent of their values in the past five days.


Top 10 Weekly Performers, Excluding Leverage/Inverse Funds and <1,000 Shares Traded

Ticker Name Weekly Performance Weekly Volume AUM ($, mm)
TAN Guggenheim Solar 14.68% 466,393 48.80
KWT Market Vectors Solar Energy 14.06% 25,848 11.01
JJT iPath Dow Jones-UBS Tin Total Return ETN 5.37% 10,149 6.33
FAA Guggenheim Airline 4.90% 33,775 16.96
PBW PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy 4.71% 2,157,673 121.80
PKOL PowerShares Global Coal 4.53% 5,936 10.86
ARGT Global X FTSE Argentina 20 4.52% 38,039 2.99
LD iPath Dow Jones-UBS Lead Total Return ETN 4.10% 49,973 2.22
BRAF Global X Brazil Financials 4.07% 3,238 3.91
FGEM EGShares Financials GEMS 4.01% 7,500 5.41

Bottom 10 Weekly Performers, Excluding Leverage/Inverse Funds and <1,000 Shares Traded

Ticker Name Weekly Performance Weekly Volume AUM ($, mm)
GRN iPath Global Carbon ETN -10.01% 2,788 0.99
UNG United States Natural Gas -8.43% 49,430,852 1,160.10
CVOL C-Tracks Citi Volatility ETN -6.64% 111,412 4.35
NAGS Teucrium Natural Gas -5.94% 16,051 4.65
UNL United States 12 Month Natural Gas -5.89% 136,739 44.06
DCNG iPath Pure Beta Seasonal Natural Gas ETN -5.88% 55,128 49.13
GAZ iPath Dow Jones-UBS Natural Gas Total Return ETN -5.65% 598,631 36.32
JO iPath Dow Jones-UBS Coffee Total Return ETN -5.50% 765,605 66.35
WEAT Teucrium Wheat -5.39% 56,160 3.34
CAFE iPath Pure Beta Coffee ETN -4.75% 15,834 1.91

Disclaimer: All data as of 6 a.m. Eastern time the date the article is published. Data is believed to be accurate; however, transient market data is often subject to subsequent revision and correction by the exchanges.


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