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Wake up to an Alternative Nasdaq ETF


When it comes to accessing Nasdaq-listed stocks via an exchange traded fund, the most visited destination by investors has been the PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) .

QQQ, the NASDAQ 100 tracking ETF, is home to $46.9 billion in assets under management, making it the fourth-largest U.S. ETF. With large allocations to Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG), QQQ is a well-traveled avenue for investors looking for exposure to triple- and quadruple-digit priced stocks, but at least for the moment, QQQ itself lacks a triple-digit price tag. [Nasdaq 5,000 a Real Possibility]

There are, however, other ways of accessing the Nasdaq, including equal-weight spins on QQQ and ETFs that exclude the technology sector. [Nasdaq ETF Hits Another Record High]

One of those alternative Nasdaq ETFs is the PowerShares DWA NASDAQ Momentum Portfolio (DWAQ) . DWAQ is one of the 10 PowerShares ETFs that recently transitioned to momentum indices from Dorsey Wright & Associates. The fund was formerly known as the PowerShares Dynamic OTC Portfolio. [PowerShares Portfolio Changes]

As was highlighted last week in the case of the PowerShares DWA Healthcare Momentum Portfolio (PTH) , index swaps can, in some cases, prove beneficial to ETF investors. It took PTH seven weeks to gain 7.2%, but just seven trading days after the index swap to gain 4.6%. [Index Change Boosts This ETF]

A similar scenario is emerging with DWAQ, which has easily outpaced QQQ and the Nasdaq Composite since converting to the Dorsey Wright NASDAQ Technical Leaders Index on Feb. 19. That index is comprised of “a universe of approximately 1,000 common stocks having the largest market capitalizations and traded on the NASDAQ exchange,” according to PowerShares.

While DWAQ features familiar large-caps such as Apple, Gilead Sciences (GILD) and Priceline (PCLN) among its top-10 holdings, the ETF is small-cap heavy with small-cap growth, value and blend names combining for over 51% of the 99-stock fund’s weight.

Like the other PowerShares ETFs that track Dorsey Wright’s relative strength-based indices, DWAQ is passively managed. However, the relative strength methodology lends itself to increased flexibility in weighting and component selection compared to traditional cap-weighted ETFs.

Assuming current trends hold and that predictions of a biotech bubble prove inaccurate, it is easy to see what sector will be the primary driver of DWAQ’s potential, future upside: Health care. By swapping indices, DWAQ’s weight to health care stocks has more than doubled while the ETF’s tech sector exposure has been slashed to 20% from 46.4% at the end of last year.

DWAQ is now overweight health care and consumer discretionary stocks relative to QQQ. DWAQ’s combined weights to those sectors is 55.6% compared to 36.3% at the end of 2013. QQQ’s current combined allocation to those sectors is 35.3%, according to PowerShares data.

Despite higher exposure to small-cap biotech names, some of which skeptics assert are richly valued, DWAQ does not appear frothy on valuation. The ETF’s P/E and price-to-book ratios are below those found on QQQ.

PowerShares DWA NASDAQ Momentum Portfolio Sector Weights

Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of Apple, Google and QQQ.