Companies that provide hydraulic fracturing technologies and other services in the North Dakota oil patch and elsewhere aren't the only ones making money. People who invest in them are also having a good year.
A California online brokerage service that offers baskets of stocks based on a single theme has had whopping successes with "Frack Attack" and "Shale Oil," two groupings whose stock selection is weighted heavily toward oil producers in the Bakken formation.
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Hardeep Walia, founder of Motif Investing, said his company has attracted new clients from oil country because investors can customize their stocks and don't have to pay fees.
"Clients and our customers are popping up in the shale gas fields of America," Walia said. "We know it's something that appeals to people but most people don't know how to invest in it."
Motif charges a flat fee of $9.95 to buy collections of up to 30 stocks based on an investment idea, such as "Rising Food Prices," featuring products from the farm to the supermarket; "No Glass Ceilings," which are companies led by female executives; and "On The Road," which tracks travel spending. Customers can either buy a company motif or create their own.
Frack Attack was rated Tuesday as the No. 6 motif for yearly returns among tens of thousands of baskets built by the company. It is based primarily on services for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process that uses pressurized water, chemicals and grit to break open oil and gas bearing rock.
Shale Oil, one of the company's top sellers centered on large U.S. oil producers like Hess Corp. and Continental Resources Inc., was rated No. 12.
While some international oil companies are taking a hit in the market because of escalating tensions in the Middle East, American oil companies appear to be holding their own, although many stocks took a beating last week.
"Good old American shale oil is doing much better," Walia said. "They're not as exposed to these international events."
Frack Attack's yearly return hit a high-water mark of 49.4 percent on July 25. Shale Oil reached 38.9 percent on July 23.
Some of the top earners in the Frack Attack motif are U.S. Silica Holdings, which manufactures and markets frack sand; Basic Energy Services, which provides well site amenities; and the drilling company Pioneer Energy Services.
"All this fracking know-how has been developed in the U.S. and now Europe and Russia and China are all looking to do fracking," said Tuhin Ghosh, head of research at Motif Investing. "These guys are generations ahead so they stand to benefit once these countries get started."