It hasn’t been a great year for exchange-traded funds (ETFs) so far in 2014. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, it hasn’t been a great year so far for hardly any types of equities-based investments. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is off over 6.85 percent, the S&P 500 almost 5.25 percent, and the Nasdaq almost 4 percent.
In many ways this could just be a correction after 2013’s banner year, or possibly it’s a very real pullback related to China’s economic slowdown. Regardless of why, January’s been almost as bad for investors as the Super Bowl was for the Broncos.
However, at least a handful of ETFs are doing just fine. Their specific industries or indices have bucked the trend so far in 2014 and shown serious growth rather than a monster retreat. So, here are the year’s biggest gainers after the first month of trading, excluding inverse and leveraged ETFs.
C-Tracks ETN Citi Volatility Index Total Return (CVOL)
YTD Gain: 42.64 percent
Index: Citi Volatility Index Total Return
Expense Ratio: 1.15 percent
This is not, technically speaking, an ETF but rather an ETN. The index combines VIX futures contracts with short positions in the S&P 500 to effectively create a leveraged VIX index (though it should be noted, it’s the index that’s leveraged, not the ETN, hence its inclusion on this list) that removes exposure to the S&P 500. Assets that trade based on market volatility are going to benefit from big swings, and January’s heavy losses across equities markets clearly qualify.
iPath Dow Jones-UBS Coffee Subindex SM Total Return Index ETF ($JO)
YTD Gain: 31.2 percent
Issuer: Barclays iPath
Index: Dow Jones-UBS Coffee Subindex Total Return
Expense Ratio: 0.75 percent
Coffee has had a rough few years, with massive supply resulting in crashing prices. However, dry weather in Brazil has sparked a run for coffee. It jumped 5 percent on Wednesday, its seventh-straight day of gains. On the whole, Coffee prices are up almost 30 percent in 2014, finally giving the reeling industry some relief.
PureFunds ISE Junior Silver ETF (SILJ)
YTD Gain: 22.78 percent
Index: ISE Junior Silver Index
Expense Ratio: 0.69 percent
After shedding more than half its value in 2013, SILJ is starting to roar back in 2014. Two of our top-performing ETFs of 2014 track stocks for precious metals miners despite the fact that gold is only slightly up on the year and silver slightly down.
Gold Explorers ETF ($GLDX)
YTD Gain: 18.73 percent
Issuer: Global X
Index: Solactive Global Gold Explorers Index
Expense Ratio: 0.65 percent
Again, with gold’s yearly gains at just under $20 an ounce, gains for these mining ETFs would appear to have explanations outside of shifting commodities prices.
iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX)
YTD Gain: 16.22 percent
Issuer: Barclays iPath
Index: S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Index Total Return
Once again, an ETN rather than an ETF, but we’ve included it here nonetheless. However, it is still up over 15 percent on the year. The VIX is commonly referred to as the “fear index,” whether that moniker is deserved or not, and the early volatility this year has clearly driven it higher.
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