These Despised ETFs Have Dominated In 2012

by: Benzinga

By The ETF Professor

Let's be real. There's an aura of controversy surrounding exchange traded funds. Whether it is the much maligned leveraged ETFs or those funds that are viewed by some as having too narrow of a focus, there's no shortage of unpleasant commentary on ETFs out there.

Sometimes it's warranted. After all, there's no such thing as a perfect asset class. But sometimes ETF hating is just hating for the sake of hating.

The interesting thing is some of the most criticized funds in 2011 have turned out to be stellar performers in 2012. It almost begs the question: where are the haters now? With that, let's look at some opportunities with some ETFs that the peanut gallery loves to hate.

Global X Uranium ETF (NYSEARCA:URA): No pun intended, but in 2011 the Global X Uranium ETF was the ETF equivalent of nuclear waste. It was vile, toxic and downright dreadful to be long with. Times change as we surmised they would and URA has gone bonkers this year, surging up over 25%.

There was a hint that this run for URA was on the way and it came in the form of the ETF's assets under management holding up pretty well despite intense controversy. More gains could be in store in 2012.

First Trust ISE Cloud Computing Index Fund (NASDAQ:SKYY): Finding criticisms of SKYY isn't that hard. Some have even boasted that they were early to the SKYY-bashing party. And they were right for a while as the ETF steadily declined following its July 2011 debut.

That's fine, but haters also need to give credit where it's due. Cloud computing is a booming investment theme and it appears someone realizes that. SKYY traded around $15 in October. Today, the ETF trades around $19. Where's the love?

Global X FTSE Greece 20 ETF (NYSEARCA:GREK): The first ever Greece ETF was a somewhat controversial idea, but GREK has also had some supporters. As it should, because the statistics back up at least taking a look at GREK.

Quick question: have the ETFs tracking Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland (just to name a few) outperformed GREK in 2012? The answer is no, and an emphatic no at that. The two best performers of that group would be the iShares MSCI Austria Investable Market Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWO) and the iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWG), and neither of those can come close to the returns offered by GREK this year.

Global X Social Media Index ETF (NASDAQ:SOCL): One of 2011's most criticized new ETFs, SOCL's day in the sun may be arriving on news of the Facebook IPO happening sooner than many had thought. SOCL can add new social media IPOs to its holdings with just a few days of the stock's debut, so expect Facebook when it comes public to be featured in this ETF quickly. The ETF is up around 9% year-to-date.

WisdomTree India Earnings ETF (NYSEARCA:EPI): In this case, two things should be acknowledged. First, any India ETF would fit in here. Second, plenty of folks have come out in support of India ETFs this year.

Yes, 2011 was an awful year for India ETFs due to the country's epic inflation problem, but 2012 has brought sweeter music to the world's second-fastest growing major economy. Up about 20% year-to-date, EPI has been an Indian ETF leader. That trend will continue if the ETF finds it way above resistance at $20.50.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

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