10 Neat, New ETFs of 2011

by Todd Shriber

Last month, Trader Daily offered “Ten ETFs That Could Just Go Away.” To show we don’t have hearts of stone, now would be a good time to look at 10 of the neatest, niftiest and most interesting new exchange-traded funds of this year.

There are plenty of new funds to choose from. Issuers First Trust and Global X have rolled out more than 30 new ETFs combined, and the entire line-up of new ETFs to debut this year is well-populated to say the least. In no particular order:

1) ETFS Physical Asian Gold Shares (AGOL)

It’s hard to get too excited about another ETF backed by physical gold. But ETF Securities put a twist on the concept and offered investors who fret about the U.S. government seizing physical gold peace of mind by introducing an ETF that stores its gold in Singapore.

2) First Trust Nasdaq CEA Smartphone Index Fund (FONE)

Finally, an ETF for the gadget lovers and technophiles out there. FONE is the first ETF to lay claim to the smartphone niche, just don’t expect the ETF to be heavy on Apple (AAPL) or Research In Motion (RIMM) because it’s not.

3) Market Vectors Russia Small-Cap ETF (RSXJ)

Van Eck Global’s Market Vectors unit was the first ETF issuer to sponsor a Russia-specific ETF, the Market Vectors Russia ETF (RSX), and the firm beat its rivals to the punch with RSXJ, the first small-cap play on the “R” in the BRIC quartet.

4) Market Vectors Germany Small-Cap ETF (GERJ)

Kudos to Market Vectors for offering the first small-cap, country-specific ETF on a member of the European Union. Good choice, too, as Germany is probably the only country investors would respond to for a small-cap ETF.

5) PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio (BKLN)

Admit it. You were just dying for an ETF based on large, institutional leveraged loans to come to market. What may have seemed like an odd idea at first glance has actually proven quite valid. BKLN has attracted almost $145 million in assets under management in less than three months on the market, according to the PowerShares website.

6) Global X Fishing Industry ETF (FISN)

New York-based Global X has been one of the most prolific issuers of new ETFs this year, and the firm’s ETFs concepts are so unique that this list could be entirely devoted to Global X funds. We’ll start with FISN, which may appear like an obscure idea for an ETF, but there are several good reasons why this fund may be a good catch.

7) Global X Mexico Small-Cap ETF (MEXS)

Coincidentally, MEXS made its debut on Cinco de Mayo, becoming the first small-cap, Mexico-specific ETF to come to market. The fund has accumulated $1.4 million in assets under management since its debut, according to Global X data.

8) First Trust Nasdaq Global Auto Index Fund (CARZ)

Since the advent of the ETF industry, the absence of a fund representing the auto industry has been conspicuous. First Trust took care of that earlier this month with CARZ, which is devoted entirely to automakers. Global X followed up soon after with the Global X Auto ETF (VROM), which offers exposure to automakers and parts suppliers.

9) WisdomTree Asia Local Debt Fund (ALD)

Actively managed ETFs have been hit or miss with investors since coming onto the ETF scene in 2008, but ALD has been one of the hits. The ETF offers exposure to debt issued by South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, India, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand. It has accumulated a stellar $267.5 million in assets under management in less than six months on the market.

10) Market Vectors Mongolia ETF

This one hasn’t come to market yet, and there are no guarantees it will. But as Benzinga notes, Van Eck has filed plans to launch the first ETF devoted to Mongolia. No ETFs currently offer exposure to the resource-rich, Asian country, Benzinga reports.

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