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Interesting Themes Among New ETFs Hitting All-Time Highs

July 26, 2013 1:49 pm
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On Thursday, 15 exchange-traded products hit new all-time highs.

The number may have been higher, but the parameters of the screen that was run to turn up that number included confining the search to ETFs that were at least six months old with average daily volume of at least 10,000 shares.

Excluding the two volatility ETNs that popped up in the search, 13 traditional long ETFs made the cut Thursday, though the list is probably far smaller Friday as U.S. markets are retreating. What makes the list of ETFs that hit new all-time highs Thursday interesting is that there are some common themes that link a few of these funds.

Consider the following:

The U.S. Still Rocks
One theme that has gotten a lot of attention this year, and with good reason, is the dominant performance turned in by U.S. stocks compared to other developed markets. With the exception of Japan ETFs, few markets outside of the U.S. have provided ETF investors with many thrills.

And there is a reasonable chance few investors would guess which non-U.S. ETF made Thursday's list of ETFs making new all-time highs. It was the iShares MSCI Ireland Capped ETF (NYSE: EIRL). EIRL, the lone Ireland ETF, was up 21.5 percent year-to-date heading into Friday compared to 15.7 percent of the SPDR S&P 500 (NYSE: SPY).

Related: Stealth Rallies For These Emerging Markets ETFs.

Facebook Friend-ed a Slew of ETFs
Assuming for a minute that most investors have by now heard that Thursday was an excellent day to be long Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), it should not come as a surprise that plenty of ETFs benefited from the surge in that stock.

In fact, five of the ETFs that hit new all-time highs Thursday hold shares of Facebook. The list, in no particular order: The First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index Fund (NYSE: FDN), First Trust US IPO Index Fund (NYSE: FPX), Global X Social Media Index ETF (NASDAQ: SOCL), PowerShares NASDAQ Internet (NASDAQ: PNQI) and, if you can believe it, the First Trust ISE Cloud Computing Index Fund (NASDAQ: SKYY).

Tiny Stocks Show Their Might
Small-caps have contributed in a big way to the broader market's upside, but what about micro-caps? Micro-cap ETFs are by no means, but they are a decent option for investors that do not want to engage in stock-picking among sub-$300 million market cap equities. Two micro-cap ETFs, the iShares Micro-Cap ETF (NYSE: IWC) and the First Trust Dow Jones Select MicroCap Index Fund (NYSE: FDM), made new highs yesterday.

Not to be too picky, but it should be noted that since micro-caps have performed well this year, many of the stocks found in those ETFs now have market caps that put them well into small-cap territory.

Speaking of Small
Investors that take a look at the top-10 non-leveraged ETFs on a year-to-date basis will find that only a few of those funds would meet the definition of a "big ETF." If size is a deciding factor in ETF selection for some, than those folks probably do not want to be involved with most of the funds that hit new highs on Thursday.

IWC has over $752 million in assets under management and FDN is the only member of the group with over $1 billion in AUM. Proving that the idea of an ETF needing$100 million in assets to be a strong performer is utterly absurd, here is a sampling of the ETFs with less than $100 million in AUM that made new all time highs on Thursday: The First Trust NASDAQ Global Auto Index Fund (NASDAQ: CARZ), EIRL, FPX, PNQI, and SOCL.

For more on ETFs, click here.

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