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Is Nuveen ESG Small-Cap ETF (NUSC) a Strong ETF Right Now?

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Designed to provide broad exposure to the Style Box - Small Cap Growth category of the market, the Nuveen ESG Small-Cap ETF (NUSC - Free Report) is a smart beta exchange traded fund launched on 12/13/2016.

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.

Market cap weighted indexes work great for investors who believe in market efficiency. They provide a low-cost, convenient and transparent way of replicating market returns.

If you're the kind of investor who would rather try and beat the market through good stock selection, then smart beta funds are your best choice; this fund class is known for tracking non-cap weighted strategies.

Non-cap weighted indexes try to choose stocks that have a better chance of risk-return performance, which is based on specific fundamental characteristics, or a mix of other such characteristics.

This area offers many different investment choices, such as simplest equal-weighting, fundamental weighting and volatility/momentum based weighting methodologies; however, not all of these strategies can deliver superior results.

Fund Sponsor & Index

NUSC is managed by Nuveen, and this fund has amassed over $1.09 billion, which makes it one of the larger ETFs in the Style Box - Small Cap Growth. This particular fund, before fees and expenses, seeks to match the performance of the TIAA ESG Small-Cap Index.

The TIAA ESG USA Small-Cap Index comprises of equity securities issued by small-capitalization companies listed on US exchanges.

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.

Annual operating expenses for this ETF are 0.31%, making it on par with most peer products in the space.

The fund has a 12-month trailing dividend yield of 1.11%.

Sector Exposure and Top Holdings

Most ETFs are very transparent products, and disclose their holdings on a daily basis. ETFs also offer diversified exposure, which minimizes single stock risk, though it's still important for investors to research a fund's holdings.

For NUSC, it has heaviest allocation in the Industrials sector --about 18.30% of the portfolio --while Consumer Discretionary and Financials round out the top three.

When you look at individual holdings, Service Corp International (SCI - Free Report) accounts for about 1.02% of the fund's total assets, followed by Siteone Landscape Supply Inc (SITE - Free Report) and Murphy Usa Inc (MUSA - Free Report) .

Its top 10 holdings account for approximately 8.05% of NUSC's total assets under management.

Performance and Risk

So far this year, NUSC has lost about -0.08%, and is up about 6.45% in the last one year (as of 02/22/2024). During this past 52-week period, the fund has traded between $31.77 and $39.93.

The ETF has a beta of 1.13 and standard deviation of 22.11% for the trailing three-year period. With about 519 holdings, it effectively diversifies company-specific risk.


Nuveen ESG Small-Cap ETF is a reasonable option for investors seeking to outperform the Style Box - Small Cap Growth segment of the market. However, there are other ETFs in the space which investors could consider.

JPMorgan Nasdaq Equity Premium Income ETF (JEPQ - Free Report) tracks ---------------------------------------- and the iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA ETF (ESGU - Free Report) tracks MSCI USA ESG Focus Index. JPMorgan Nasdaq Equity Premium Income ETF has $10.08 billion in assets, iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA ETF has $13.10 billion. JEPQ has an expense ratio of 0.35% and ESGU charges 0.15%.

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 - Small 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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