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Is First Trust NASDAQ Oil & Gas ETF (FTXN) a Strong ETF Right Now?

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Launched on 09/20/2016, the First Trust NASDAQ Oil & Gas ETF (FTXN - Free Report) is a smart beta exchange traded fund offering broad exposure to the Energy ETFs category of the market.

What Are Smart Beta ETFs?

The ETF industry has long been dominated by products based on market cap weighted indexes, a strategy created to reflect the market or a particular market segment.

A good option for investors who believe in market efficiency, market cap weighted indexes offer a low-cost, convenient, and transparent way of replicating market returns.

On the other hand, some investors who believe that it is possible to beat the market by superior stock selection opt to invest in another class of funds that track non-cap weighted strategies--popularly known as smart beta.

These indexes attempt to select stocks that have better chances of risk-return performance, based on certain fundamental characteristics or a combination of such characteristics.

While this space offers a number of choices to investors, including simplest equal-weighting, fundamental weighting and volatility/momentum based weighting methodologies, not all these strategies have been able to deliver superior results.

Fund Sponsor & Index

The fund is managed by First Trust Advisors, and has been able to amass over $1.26 billion, which makes it one of the larger ETFs in the Energy ETFs. Before fees and expenses, this particular fund seeks to match the performance of the Nasdaq US Smart Oil & Gas Index.

The Nasdaq US Smart Oil & Gas Index is a modified factor weighted index, designed to provide exposure to US companies within the oil and gas industry.

Cost & Other Expenses

Cost is an important factor in selecting the right ETF, and cheaper funds can significantly outperform their more expensive cousins if all other fundamentals are the same.

Operating expenses on an annual basis are 0.60% for this ETF, which makes it on par with most peer products in the space.

It has a 12-month trailing dividend yield of 2.24%.

Sector Exposure and Top Holdings

Even though ETFs offer diversified exposure that minimizes single stock risk, investors should also look at the actual holdings inside the fund. Luckily, most ETFs are very transparent products that disclose their holdings on a daily basis.

FTXN's heaviest allocation is in the Energy sector, which is about 100% of the portfolio.

Looking at individual holdings, Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC - Free Report) accounts for about 8.39% of total assets, followed by Pbf Energy Inc. (PBF - Free Report) and Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM - Free Report) .

Its top 10 holdings account for approximately 58.53% of FTXN's total assets under management.

Performance and Risk

So far this year, FTXN has gained about 0.82%, and is up roughly 12.02% in the last one year (as of 03/08/2023). During this past 52-week period, the fund has traded between $22.03 and $31.70.

The fund has a beta of 1.43 and standard deviation of 45.41% for the trailing three-year period. With about 50 holdings, it has more concentrated exposure than peers.


First Trust NASDAQ Oil & Gas ETF is a reasonable option for investors seeking to outperform the Energy ETFs segment of the market. However, there are other ETFs in the space which investors could consider.

Vanguard Energy ETF (VDE - Free Report) tracks MSCI US Investable Market Energy 25/50 Index and the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE - Free Report) tracks Energy Select Sector Index. Vanguard Energy ETF has $8.23 billion in assets, Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF has $41.01 billion. VDE has an expense ratio of 0.10% and XLE charges 0.10%.

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

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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