It is fair to say electric car maker Tesla (TSLA) has defied the skeptics. Elon Musk's company, as he promised it would be, was profitable in the first quarter. In the past month, the shares have surged over 75%, and that does not include Monday's 11% pop on volume that is already better than triple the daily average. Tesla still has a market cap of under $10 billion, and the shares have not yet been trading for three years. Those factoids are another way of highlighting the fact that Tesla is not yet a prominent member of a lot of ETFs.
The First Trust Nasdaq Global Auto Index Fund (CARZ), itself a recent highflier, does not yet hold Tesla, although that could change at the ETF's next quarterly rebalancing. CARZ, the lone auto ETF, is the most logical destination for Tesla, and the stock may yet find a home in that fund. The ETF just does not offer Tesla exposure right now, but investors can use a couple of ETFs to play Tesla's rapid ascent. Consider the following:
First Trust Nasdaq Clean Edge Green Energy Index Fund (QCLN)
The First Trust Nasdaq Clean Edge Green Energy Index Fund has just $37.3 million in assets under management, but over $5.8 million of that total has come into the ETF in the past month. It is not a stretch to say that number will continue to grow due to QCLN's almost 13.4% weight to Tesla. That makes Tesla QCLN's largest holding by more than 440 basis points over Cree (CREE).
Tesla is driving QCLN higher. The fund has surged 15.1% in the past month, and that was before touching a new 52-week on a 2.7% gain Monday. QCLN is "the Tesla ETF" as no other fund comes close to offering the weight to the stock that this ETF does. That is not a bad status to have these days.
Market Vectors Global Alternative Energy ETF (GEX)
The Market Vectors Global Alternative Energy ETF earns the silver medal for Tesla exposure as the stock is this ETF's third-largest holding with an allocation of 6.32%. Tesla now has a significantly larger market cap than Cree, GEX's largest holding, so the former may receive a modest increase in weight at the expense of the latter the next time GEX rebalances.
The risk with GEX is that the ETF is true to the "global" in its name. More than 48% of the fund's holdings are non-U.S. companies, including weights to Italy and Spain, along with struggling emerging markets such as Brazil. On the other hand, GEX is proving to be a decent Tesla sympathy play as the ETF has gained almost 13% in the past month and also touched a new 52-week high on Monday on above-average volume.
PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio (PBW)
The PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio is not so much a Tesla ETF as it is an Elon Musk ETF. Tesla is PBW's largest holding with a weight of 4.62%. SolarCity (SCTY), Musk's other company, gets a weight of 3.43% in the $153.6 million PBW. Friday would have been the day to give this ETF a look. Not only was Tesla soaring on Monday, but SolarCity was up nearly 29% on volume that was already more than quadruple the daily average. PBW, which was trading below $5 last week, has jumped 13.4% in the past month.
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