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ETF Investors Sift Through the Wreckage for 2019 Plays

This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

Exchange traded fund investors were forced to be more nimble in 2018 to adapt to the volatile market conditions.

While that volatility dragged down global markets, some traders are sifting through the wreckage in hopes of finding some bargains, such as the oversold emerging markets, which have been particularly hit following the intensifying trade war between the U.S. and China. The emerging markets now look like an attractive value play, with the benchmark MSCI Emerging Markets Index trading at a 10.5 price-to-earnings, compared to the S&P 500's 16.7 P/E.

ETF investors are also taking notice of the cheapness and growth opportunity in developing markets as the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF brought in $2.9 billion over the past month and $15.7 billion year-to-date.

The recent spike in volatility, with broad U.S. benchmarks retreating below their long-term trend lines, has also pushed more investors into safe-haven plays to ride out the storm. Precious metals like gold have historically acted as a go-to safe store of value in times of trouble, and this time is not any different. The SPDR Gold Shares saw $1.2 billion in net inflows and iShares Gold Trust attracted $288 million in inflows so far in the fourth quarter, which stood as a stark contrast to the billions in outflows that physically backed gold ETFs experienced earlier this year in response to the strengthening U.S. dollar and rising bond yields.

Ticker Security Last Change %Chg
IEMG ISHARES INC CORE MSCI EMERGING MKTS ETF 47.41 +0.16 +0.34%
GLD SPDR GOLD SHARES TRUST - EUR ACC 120.91 -0.15 -0.13%
IAU ISHARES GOLD TRUST 12.26 -0.01 -0.08%

ETFs 2018: A Snapshot

Among the most popular ETF plays of 2018, the Vanguard Value ETF attracted $9.7 billion in net inflows, iShares MSCI Min Vol USA ETF experienced $3.8 billion in inflows, Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF brought in $2.8 billion, iShares Edge MSCI USA Quality Factor ETF added $2.8 billion and SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 Value ETF saw $2.2 billion in inflows, according to XTF data.

Ticker Security Last Change %Chg
VTV VANGUARD INDEX FUNDS VANGUARD VALUE ETF 97.49 +0.50 +0.51%
USMV ISHARES TRUST MSCI USA MINIMUM VOLATILITY 52.19 +0.25 +0.49%
VIG VANGUARD SPECIALIZED FUNDS DIVIDEND APPRECIATION ETF 97.54 +0.57 +0.59%
QUAL ISHARES TRUST EDGE MSCI USA QLTY FCTR ETF 76.34 +0.37 +0.49%
SPYV SPDR SERIES TRUST SPDR S&P 500 VALUE ETF 27.04 +0.09 +0.35%

Given the Federal Reserve's tighter monetary policy outlook and interest rate normalization heading into the late economic cycle, many have also anticipated an end to the three-decade long bull run in the fixed-income market. After years of strength, the benchmark Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index now trades with a longer duration, greater exposure to U.S. government debt and lower yield that would not safely account for the risks involved.

Alternatively, fixed-income investors may be looking into actively managed bond ETFs with an active management team that is more capable of adapting to the changing interest rates. For example, investors can supplement their portfolios with less rate sensitive strategies like the PIMCO Low Duration Active ETF. LDUR's the management style could serve fixed income investors well as the Federal Reserve continues boosting interest rates.

Ticker Security Last Change %Chg
LDUR PIMCO ETF TRUST LOW DURATION EXCHANGE TRADE 98.71 -0.10 -0.10%
DUSA DAVIS FUNDAMENTAL ETF TR SELECT US EQUITY ETF 20.02 +0.11 +0.57%
DFNL DAVIS FUNDAMENTAL ETF TR SELECT FINANCIAL ETF 20.59 +0.12 +0.58%
DINT DAVIS FUNDAMENTAL ETF TR SELECT INTL ETF 15.18 +0.05 +0.34%
DWLD DAVIS FUNDAMENTAL ETF TR SELECT WORLDWIDE ETF 19.69 +0.12 +0.61%

Actively managed strategies are also beginning to shine and offer investors ways to potentially enhance returns in more uncertain times. Investors may look to a time-tested active approach to potentially enhance returns. For example, the actively managed Davis Select U.S. Equity ETF, Davis Select Financial ETF, Davis Select International ETF and Davis Select Worldwide ETF are backed by Davis Advisors’ focuses on long-term opportunities and incorporate the money manager’s judgement experience, high conviction, low turnover, accountability and alignment. The Davis team screens for fundamental characteristics, including cash flows assets and liabilities, and other criteria.

The actively managed Cambria Tail Risk ETF can provide income and capital appreciation from investments in the U.S. markets while protecting against downside risk. The active ETF will invest in cash and U.S. government bonds, and utilizing a put option strategy to manage the risk of a significant negative movement in the value of domestic equities, or more commonly known as tail risk, over rolling one-month periods.

Additionally, something like the ARK Invest’s flagship ARK Innovation Fund could allow investors to tap into the growth of disruptive technologies. ARKK seeks to invest in the cornerstone companies taken from health care, technology and industrial sectors that focus on investing in disruptive innovation. Such companies may include ones that benefit from big data, cloud computing, cryptocurrencies, the sharing economy, genomic sequencing, molecular medicine, agricultural biology, 3D printing, energy storage, and autonomous vehicles.

Ticker Security Last Change %Chg
DUSA DAVIS FUNDAMENTAL ETF TR SELECT US EQUITY ETF 20.02 +0.11 +0.57%
TAIL CAMBRIA ETF TRUST TAIL RISK ETF 22.84 +0.05 +0.22%
ARKK ARK ETF TR INNOVATION ETF 37.00 +0.23 +0.63%

As for 2018, ahead of the downturn in the global markets, growth remained one of the most popular style plays, helping investors capture fast paced, cyclical stocks in an extended bull run. However, with uncertainty rearing its ugly head, investors have shifted away from this riskier and overbought market segment.

Investors have alternatively sought out value and quality plays for a more defensive positioning in the late market cycle. Many have looked to value as a way to continue to capture potential U.S. stock market gains, but still maintain a slightly defensive exposure in case of further troubles.

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