There are recipes for success for new exchange-traded funds. In an effort to attract assets and investors' attention, rookie ETFs can undercut established rivals on fees, offer exposure to a compelling theme or get off to strong starts in terms of total returns.
What Happened: The Defiance Nasdaq Junior Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ:IBBJ) checks a couple of those boxes.
And, to the credit of the newly minted ETF, its annual fee of 0.45%, or $45 on a $10,000 investment, is reasonable among biotechnology and thematic ETFs.
Why It's Important: IBBJ debuted in August, a tough time for biotech ETFs because these funds have a propensity to lag in the months leading up to presidential elections. Broadly speaking, that was true again in 2020, but those broader struggles highlighted the strength of IBBJ.
As of Nov. 12, IBBJ returned almost 21% since inception compared to an anemic 1.53% for the large-cap Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, according to Defiance ETFs.
IBBJ follows the Nasdaq Junior Biotechnology Index (NBIJR), which is a collection of small and smaller mid-cap names also residing in the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index. IBBJ's benchmark caps components at a market capitalization of $5 billion at the time of inclusion.
IBBJ's approximately 180 holdings “are engaged in biotech research and development, the sale or licensing of biological substances for the purposes of drug discovery and diagnostic development; and pharmaceutical manufacturers of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, including vaccines and development and manufacturing companies,” according to Defiance.
What's Next: Past performance isn't a guarantee of future returns, but it's worth noting that if IBBJ's fast start through Nov. 12 is annualized, the rookie ETF would return almost 101% over that year compared to just 5.77% for the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, according to Defiance data.
Plus, the new ETF has some favorable political precedent on its side. As noted above biotech ETFs typically don't perform well in the run-up to presidential elections, but historical data confirm those funds usually bounce back rapidly, setting the stage for impressive performances over the coming year.
Time will tell if IBBJ holds true to that form, but there are signs it could. The fund gained 4.32% last week, beating the aforementioned Nasdaq Biotechnology Index by 190 basis points.