The pace of ETF closures has increased in recent weeks, and so has talk of what it takes to make an ETF successful. What "it" is is almost always robust average daily trading volume, an assets under management figure that assuages the market that a particular ETF will survive or a combination of the two.
Regarding AUM, $100 million is number most often used as the point at which an ETF becomes profitable for the issuer. There is not a lot of science behind that number. After all, a large ETF sponsor can let low asset funds stay on the market for years, but a small issuer may not have the resources to afford such a luxury.
It is also critical to note that AUM and volume numbers are not indicators of an ETF's ability to generate returns. Recent research has proven as much. Still, there is some element of safety in ETF AUM numbers, so investors might want to evaluate the following ETFs that are experiencing rapid asset increases.
Global X SuperDividend ETF (SDIV)
The rapid accumulation of assets by SDIV is nothing short of impressive. Early in the second quarter, the fund had less than $60 million in AUM. On August 23, Global X said SDIV crossed the $100 million level. The inflows did not stop there.
As investors continue to emphasize dividends and search for yields north of three and four percent, SDIV is an ETF that keeps popping up in the conversation. Rightfully so since the fund has a 30-day SEC yield of 7.7 percent. Since the $100 million announcement, SDIV has added another $21 million in AUM. Said another way, SDIV has grown its AUM total by 21 percent in less than three full trading weeks.
Market Vectors Egypt ETF (EGPT)
The Market Vectors Egypt ETF does not meet the $100 million threshold deemed so important by the so-called experts. Following the advice of only investing in $100 million in AUM ETFs would have meant missing out on EGPT's 61 percent year-to-date returns. As was reported on Tuesday, EGPT's AUM total jumped 25 percent from August 1 to September 10.
The jumping has not stopped. EGPT had $54.8 million in AUM as of September 10. Make that $56.1 million as of Tuesday, according to Market Vectors data.
WisdomTree Emerging Markets Equity Income Fund (DEM)
As a multi-country emerging markets ETF, the WisdomTree Emerging Markets Equity Income Fund competes with the Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM).
While DEM has outperformed both of its larger rivals over the past five years, chances are the WisdomTree offering will not catch those funds in AUM terms. Still, savvy investors are putting money to work in DEM in an effort to get some yield on their emerging markets investments. DEM, which has a distribution yield of almost 5.2 percent, crossed $3 billion in AUM in February. That number is now $4.26 billion.
PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio (BKLN)
The PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio is not anonymous, but its recent surge in AUM has gone relatively unnoticed. BKLN, the loan ETF devoted to senior loans, debuted in March 2011 and by late July 2012, the ETF had nearly $603 million in AUM.
That is impressive for 17 months of work. What is more impressive is that in less than two months, BKLN's AUM total has swelled to $753 million.
PowerShares Emerging Markets Sovereign Debt Portfolio (PCY)
Another example of a bond fund that is by no means obscure, PCY has benefited from a couple of trends this year. Those being investors' thirst for yield, a decent environment for the U.S. dollar and the rising popularity of emerging markets sovereign debt.
Break down PCY's AUM surge this way. The fund now has $2.25 billion in AUM. Inflows for 2012 have been north of $631 million, according to Index Universe data. That is a significant jump on a percentage basis for any ETF, let alone that already had more than $1 billion in assets.
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