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Active Indexes Drive PowerShares

Active Indexes Drive PowerShares

By choosing novel types of indexes, PowerShares has widened the range of options available for sector and thematic investors.

Sam Subramanian 

Starting off with two ETF offerings in 2003, PowerShares is emerging as a strong player in the sector ETF arena. The company introduced 22 sector and industry ETFs in 2005. This was followed by another 21 sector and industry ETFs in 2006. PowerShares is expected to expand the lineup of these ETFs further in the current year.

ETF Index Selection

Unlike the majority of ETFs which benchmark well-known market capitalization-based indexes such as those from Dow Jones & Co. and Standard & Poor's, PowerShares sector and industry ETFs use 'active' indexes. PowerShares also offers some unique theme-based ETFs.

1. Intelligent Indexes: A large number of PowerShares' sector and industry ETFs in the Dynamic series benchmark AMEX's Intellidex indexes. Stocks within each sector or industry are assessed using a variety of criteria such as fundamental growth, valuation, investment timeliness, and risk to identify those with high expected capital appreciation potential. From among such identified stocks, a fixed number is selected each quarter for the sector or industry Intellidex. The Intellidex indexes consist of large-cap, mid-cap, and small-cap segments. Each market cap segment is allocated a collective weight and all stocks within the segment are given equal weight.

2. Fundamental Indexes: Nine PowerShares sector ETFs benchmark the corresponding FTSE RAFI sector index. The FTSE RAFI sector indexes consist of the largest U. S. companies in the sector as determined by four fundamental measures, book value, cash flow, dividends, and sales. An overall weight is calculated for each company by equally weighting each fundamental measure. Firms with the highest fundamental weight are selected and each firm is assigned a weight equal to its fundamental weight. The FTSE RAFI indexes are reconstituted annually.

3. Unique Plays: PowerShares offers some unique industry ETFs. Water Resources ETF (Amex: PHO) and Global Water ETF (Amex: PIO) based on Palisades Water and Global Water Indexes, respectively are examples of niche industry ETFs. Some ETFs also focus on specific investment themes. Lux Nanotech ETF (Amex: PXN) ventures into nanotechnology, a process with application potential in health care, information technology, materials, and industrial sectors. The Lux Nanotech index has holdings distributed across companies in these sectors.

AlphaProfit Take

By choosing novel indexes, PowerShares has expanded the investment options available for sector ETF investors. These ETFs can be attractive for investors pursuing a GARP, value, or thematic approach to investing.

1. GARP Investors: Sector and industry ETFs in the Dynamic series offer a compromise between actively managed mutual funds and ETFs tracking low-turnover, static benchmarks. The Intellidex indexes used as benchmark for these ETFs apply rules-based criteria to select securities and are reconstituted quarterly. While specifics of the security selection process are kept proprietary, Amex has disclosed that factors such as fundamental growth and valuation are considered in security selection. By balancing growth with valuation-related parameters, the Intellidex indexes appear to seek 'growth at a reasonable price'. As such, the Dynamic series of ETFs may whet the appetite of GARP investors.

2. Value Investors: The weightings for securities in the FTSE RAFI series of ETFs are derived from four fundamental or accounting measures, book value, cash flow, dividends, and sales. By weighting stocks on these four fundamental measures of a firm's size rather than its market capitalization, the FTSE RAFI indexes seek to avoid over-weighting over-valued stocks and under-weighting under-valued stocks. Value investors typically consider the FTSE RAFI index weighting factors on a normalized basis to screen for attractively priced stocks. Given this similarity, the ETFs in the FTSE RAFI series are more in tune with a value investor's security selection process.

3. Thematic Investors: PowerShares offers a group of ETFs that focus on specific investment themes like clean energy and clean technology. The benchmarked indexes are obtained from organizations having in-depth expertise in niche areas. Global Clean Energy ETF (Amex: PBD) and WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (Amex: PBW), for example, are based on indexes constructed by WilderShares, LLC. These ETFs provide investors with vehicles to invest in themes such as renewable energy sources and environmentally friendly technologies.

Notes: The AlphaProfit Sector Investors' Newsletter provides sector insights and recommends PowerShares ETFs. This report is for information purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer to buy or sell securities or to give individual investment advice. This report does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation, and particular needs of any specific person who may receive this report. The information contained in this report is obtained from various sources believed to be accurate and is provided without warranties of any kind. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC does not represent that this information, including any third party information, is accurate or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC is not responsible for any errors or omissions herein. Opinions expressed herein reflect the opinion of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC and are subject to change without notice. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC disclaims any liability for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information in this report. The third-party trademarks or service marks appearing within this report are the property of their respective owners. All other trademarks appearing herein are the property of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Owners and employees of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC for their own accounts invest in the Fidelity Mutual Funds included in the AlphaProfit Core and Focus model portfolios. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC neither is associated with nor receives any compensation from any of the mutual fund companies, brokers, or entities connected with the exchange-traded funds mentioned in this report. Past performance is neither an indication of nor a guarantee for future results. No part of this document may be reproduced in any manner without written permission of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Copyright © 2007 AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. All rights reserved.


About The Author

AlphaProfit PowerShares ETFs Newsletter

Sam Subramanian, PhD, MBA is Managing Principal of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. He edits the independent AlphaProfit Sector Investors' Newsletter™. This investment newsletter provides sector insights and recommends PowerShares ETFs. The investment newsletter has frequently been ranked #1 by Hulbert Financial Digest.

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