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Real Estate Refreshed With A New ETF

ETF Professor
·2 min read

The real estate sector is evolving, but the same isn't true of many of the traditional exchange-traded funds tracking the group.

What Happened: A small number of ETFs offer investors more modern approaches to the real estate sector, including the newly minted Global X Data Center REITs & Digital Infrastructure ETF (NASDAQ:VPN).

VPN, which debuted late last month, follows the Solactive Data Center REITs & Digital Infrastructure Index. VPN is the second ETF to focus on real estate investment trusts (REITs) with technological implications and comes to market as the 5G rollout is kicking into high gear and as data center is forecast to remain robust in the years ahead.

Why It's Important: Investors are becoming more familiar with the data center theme. Thank high-flying semiconductor giant Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) for that. While Nvidia powers data centers, VPN holdings operate as landlords for these mission-critical structures. Other VPN member firms operate the cellular towers that power mobile phones.

Bolstering the case for the intersection of technology and real estate as an investment thesis is the array of industries a fund like VPN touches.

“As disruptive technologies like the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and Video Games & Esports require vast amounts of data storage and processing, demand for data centers and cell towers could continue to surge, along with hardware that powers these structures,” according to Global X research.

That speaks to growth, something the broader REIT space isn't often known. However, data center and cell tower REITs have expected 12-month revenue growth rates of 9.6% and 2.4%, respectively, compared with 1.4% for the REIT industry at large. There are avenues for growth because cell tower REITs need to play catchup with mobile phone users' data demands.

“Suppliers of macro cell towers in the US added approximately 8% tower capacity from 2019 to 2020. But that lags substantially behind the 29% growth of mobile data per smartphone in North America,” notes Global X.

What's Next: VPN could be a well-timed new ETF, particularly when factoring in the backdrop of rising data center demand due to escalating cloud computing and cybersecurity needs – themes traditional REIT ETFs lack exposure to.

“Memory and processing power are fundamental pillars of this ecosystem, so as demand for data centers grows, so too should demand for the hardware that goes inside them,” notes Global X. “In fact, semiconductor revenue within the server segment grew by approximately 12% annually since 2018.”

VPN charges 0.50% per year, or $50 on a $10,000 investment.

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