High-profile ETFs and how to garner Alpha from them

brokerdeal.com blog post courtesy of insidermonkey.com
Bloomberg’s Eric Balchunas discussed the most ‘Warren Buffett-esque’ ETFs: Market Vectors ETF Trust (NYSEARCA:MOAT), iShares Trust (NYSEARCA:QUAL), and Direxion iBillionaire Index ETF (NYSEARCA:IBLN). These funds rely on different approaches to building up their portfolio, but tend to arrive at somewhat similar results.

For example, a good approximation is Market Vectors ETF Trust (NYSEARCA:MOAT) that looks through 1,500 companies,  of which 10% receive a wide moat categorization, then only 20 with the best valuation (low price – good performance) are selected to compose the index. With only six overlaps compared to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.B)‘s choices, it’s not the best approximation and it further deviates as its turnover is of about 100%, but Market Vectors ETF Trust (NYSEARCA:MOAT) acts like a good enough approximation.

Following next is iShares Trust (NYSEARCA:QUAL), which tries to depict factors that cause changes in the market’s alpha (a measure of performance on a risk-adjusted basis).

“[...] Alpha can come from small cap tilts, momentum, volatility, so this one [iShares Trust (NYSEARCA:QUAL)] is an ETF that looks for characteristics in stocks that exhibit quality. It looks for return on equity, earnings growth, and low debt, things Buffett likes. […] It’s a Buffett philosophy, but not exactly Buffet,” said Eric Balchunas.

The last, but not least is Direxion iBillionaire Index ETF (NYSEARCA:IBLN), which looks at the top 10 best performing billionaires, Warren Buffett being the 11th is not in the list. The ETF analyses 13F filings and the overlapped stocks to put a portfolio together. There’s neither an economic formula nor a valuation concept behind the picks made by Direxion iBillionaire Index ETF (NYSEARCA:IBLN), but it relies on the intuition of the best investors, which in most of the cases can help you a lot, but will not be able to guarantee a progress like Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.B)’s.