It has been a pretty good year for exchange-traded funds invested in real estate, but two ETFs within this category are leading the pack in 2019 and they’re not from one of the larger fund sponsors typically associated with this space. Nor do they follow the typical game plan of most real estate ETFs, which helps explain their rewards—and potential risks.

The two products are from Pacer ETFs, a Malvern, Pa., company with a portfolio of 20 ETFs representing total assets under management of nearly $4.7 billion. The company’s calling card is two product suites: the Pacer Trendpilot ETF Series and Pacer Cash Cows Index ETF Series.

But its two stars year-to-date aren’t from those suites. Instead, they are the Pacer Benchmark Data & Infrastructure Real Estate SCTR ETF (SRVR), which is up 38%, and the Pacer Benchmark Industrial Real Estate SCTR ETF (INDS), which is nipping at its heels with a 36.6% gain.

Both products are comfortably ahead in terms of performance among the 29 products classified as real estate ETFs by ETFdb. Pacer attributes that to avoiding a broad-based approach in favor of focusing on specific sectors it believes are closely tied to the 21st-century economy.

“By design they’re different than traditional real estate ETFs,” says Sean O’Hara, president of Pacer ETF Distributors. “We targeted these sectors because they’re basically technology plays that feed into the backbone of the technological revolution whether it’s 5G or e-commerce or streaming or A.I. or the internet of things. All of these are serviced by a specific group of publicly traded real estate names."

The SRVR fund tracks the Benchmark Data & Infrastructure Real Estate SCTR Index comprised mainly of big data center REITs and C-corps. It’s a concentrated portfolio of 18 holdings led by data center company Equinix Inc. and two cell tower operators, Crown Castle International Corp. and American Tower Corp., each of which has a roughly 15% weighting within the modified market-cap weighted index.

“These types of companies are providing the essential real estate for the build-out that’s needed,” O’Hara says. “For example, you can’t have 5G without more cell phone towers. If you’re going to have the internet of things, there needs to be a massive build-out of data capacity and the computing power that comes from these centers.”

O’Hara sees this ETF as more of a growth play than a real estate play. “It’s a different way to play technology that’s not necessarily correlated to the FANGs or the Nasdaq 100,” he says.

E-commerce has a role in both Pacer ETFs. “E-commerce is connected to both funds, but INDS is more connected to it because it’s primarily distribution centers,” O’Hara explains. “Where e-commerce comes to SRVR is that the order information needs to be processed somewhere, and that traffic will mainly go through publicly traded data centers."

The INDS fund follows the modified market-cap weighted Benchmark Real Estate SCTR Index focused on industrial and warehouse operations. And like with SRVR, INDS has a concentrated portfolio (16 holdings) where the top three positions—Prologis Inc., Duke Realty Corp. and Liberty Property Trust—have weightings in the low- to mid-teen range.

First « 1 2 » Next