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Is First Trust NASDAQ100 Equal Weighted ETF (QQEW) a Strong ETF Right Now?

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Making its debut on 04/19/2006, smart beta exchange traded fund First Trust NASDAQ100 Equal Weighted ETF (QQEW - Free Report) provides investors broad exposure to the Style Box - Large Cap Growth category of the market.

What Are Smart Beta ETFs?

The ETF industry has traditionally been dominated by products based on market capitalization weighted indexes that are designed to represent the market or a particular segment of the market.

Investors who believe in market efficiency should consider market cap indexes, as they replicate market returns in a low-cost, convenient, and transparent way.

But, there are some investors who would rather invest in smart beta funds; these funds track non-cap weighted strategies, and are a strong option for those who prefer choosing great stocks in order to beat the market.

Based on specific fundamental characteristics, or a combination of such, these indexes attempt to pick stocks that have a better chance of risk-return performance.

Even though this space provides many choices to investors--think one of the simplest methodologies like equal-weighting and more complicated ones like fundamental and volatility/momentum based weighting--not all have been able to deliver first-rate results.

Fund Sponsor & Index

QQEW is managed by First Trust Advisors, and this fund has amassed over $1.31 billion, which makes it one of the average sized ETFs in the Style Box - Large Cap Growth. Before fees and expenses, QQEW seeks to match the performance of the NASDAQ-100 Equal Weighted Index.

The NASDAQ-100 Equal Weighted Index is the equal-weighted version of the NASDAQ-100 Index which includes 100 of the largest non-financial securities listed on NASDAQ based on market capitalization.

Cost & Other Expenses

Expense ratios are an important factor in the return of an ETF and in the long-term, cheaper funds can significantly outperform their more expensive cousins, other things remaining the same.

Operating expenses on an annual basis are 0.58% for this ETF, which makes it on par with most peer products in the space.

It has a 12-month trailing dividend yield of 0.26%.

Sector Exposure and Top Holdings

It is important to delve into an ETF's holdings before investing despite the many upsides to these kinds of funds like diversified exposure, which minimizes single stock risk. And, most ETFs are very transparent products that disclose their holdings on a daily basis.

For QQEW, it has heaviest allocation in the Information Technology sector --about 42.10% of the portfolio --while Healthcare and Consumer Discretionary round out the top three.

When you look at individual holdings, Seagen Inc. (SGEN - Free Report) accounts for about 1.02% of the fund's total assets, followed by Baidu, Inc. (adr) (BIDU - Free Report) and Amgen Inc. (AMGN - Free Report) .

The top 10 holdings account for about 10.11% of total assets under management.

Performance and Risk

The ETF has added about 14.47% and is up roughly 37.44% so far this year and in the past one year (as of 07/26/2021), respectively. QQEW has traded between $82.68 and $113.78 during this last 52-week period.

QQEW has a beta of 1.03 and standard deviation of 24.67% for the trailing three-year period, which makes the fund a medium risk choice in the space. With about 103 holdings, it effectively diversifies company-specific risk.


First Trust NASDAQ100 Equal Weighted ETF is a reasonable option for investors seeking to outperform the Style Box - Large Cap Growth segment of the market. However, there are other ETFs in the space which investors could consider.

Vanguard Growth ETF (VUG - Free Report) tracks CRSP U.S. Large Cap Growth Index and the Invesco QQQ (QQQ - Free Report) tracks NASDAQ-100 Index. Vanguard Growth ETF has $82.46 billion in assets, Invesco QQQ has $182.17 billion. VUG has an expense ratio of 0.04% and QQQ charges 0.20%.

Investors looking for cheaper and lower-risk options should consider traditional market cap weighted ETFs that aim to match the returns of the Style Box - Large Cap Growth.

Bottom Line

To learn more about this product and other ETFs, screen for products that match your investment objectives and read articles on latest developments in the ETF investing universe, please visit Zacks ETF Center.

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