UBS's Exchange-Traded Fail

Sep.20.11 | About: UBS ETRACS (SSDD)

Do you want to make money by betting on solid-state drives? UBS wants to help you do so, as it recently introduced the ETRACS ISE Solid State Drive Index (NYSEARCA:SSDD) exchange-traded note.

As you have probably inferred, the SSDD tracks the performance of the ISE Solid State Drive Index, which was designed to track stocks in the growing market for solid-state derives.

Unfortunately, the components of said index indicate that the SSDD and its double-leveraged brother, the SSDL, are mere marketing gimmicks designed to take advantage of a hot buzzword.

Solid-state drives, which use flash memory to store data, are poised to play a big role in the future of mobile computing, since they offer a unique combination of high performance, tough durability, light weight, and low power consumption.

A solid-state drive is at the heart of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) popular Macbook Air notebook, and will also be integrated into Intel-powered (NASDAQ:INTC) Ultrabooks.

The following is a list of the components of the ISE Solid State Drive Index, along with their weighting:

Fusion-io, Inc (NYSE:FIO) - 16.2%
Western Digital Corp. (NYSE:WDC) - 13.1%
Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX) - 12.2%
OCZ Technology (NASDAQ:OCZ) - 10.7%
Silicon Motion Technology (NASDAQ:SIMO) - 8.6%
Marvell Technology Group (NASDAQ:MRVL) - 7.9%
LSI Corporation (NASDAQ:LSI-OLD) - 7.8%
Sandisk (SNDK) - 7.1%
Spansion (CODE) - 6.1%
Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) - 6%

Immediately, you should notice one thing - there are two hard-drive companies here, accounting for 25% of the entire index!

Yes, it's true that both Seagate and Western Digital make solid-state drives, but they make the majority of their money selling old-school hard drives. In fact, their core businesses are being threatened by the emergence of the flash-based solid-state drive.

Looking elsewhere in the list, there are other names that have little to do with the current solid-state drive market. Marvell is much, much more dependent upon hard drives than solid-state drives, and Micron (MU) is mostly a DRAM company.

Even Sandisk, the market leader in flash-memory products, gets minimal revenue from solid-state drives.

Some of the companies here will benefit from the emergence of the solid-state drive market, but it's more than obvious that these ETNs are not the way to play it.

At best, it's a general computing and semiconductor index, and at worst, a marketing gimmick. If you'd like to play storage, I'd recommend going with Sandisk, which is seeing enormous momentum from the booming tablet and smartphone markets.

Disclosure: I am long AAPL, SNDK.