Highlighting Five Free ETF Tools

by on May 27, 2011 | ETFs Mentioned:

With more than 1,200 products in a lineup that adds dozens of new funds every month, navigating through the ETF universe has become an increasingly challenging task in recent years. Innovation in the space has given investors more options than ever before for accessing asset classes and investment strategies that may have previously been out of reach. With the tremendous growth in the ETF industry has come the introduction of countless tools and resources designed to help ETF investors find the products that meet their objectives, and analyze potential holdings to determine the optimal fund. ETF Database has developed a suite of free ETF tools and resources that can be used in a variety of different ways, and that may be useful for investors of all types and all levels of sophistication. Below, we outline five of the free tools offered at ETFdb.com:

1. ETF Screener

Built around a proprietary database of descriptive and quantitative information, the ETF screener allows investors to slice and dice the universe of exchange-traded products in order to narrow down the field to the fund or funds that meet a certain investment objective. Filters include region, sector, bond type and duration, and commodity type–among many more–in order to allow for flexible screening of the 1,200+ ETPs. If you’re looking for an ETF offering exposure to China’s tech sector, the screener can be used to narrow down to the two options; those seeking an ETN for inverse gold exposure can also use the screener to hone in on the options available to them.

A simplified version of the ETFdb Screener is also available in the free ETFdb iPhone app, which also includes a feed of all original content published on ETFdb.com. ETFdb Pro members have the ability to download screener results to an Excel spreadsheet, allowing for more detailed analysis and review.

2. Head-To-Head ETF Comparison Tool

With more than 1,200 ETPs now available to U.S. investors, many find themselves with multiple options that may be appropriate for achieving a certain objective. There are, for example, multiple ETFs offering exposure to airlines, agribusiness and automobile manufacturers; those seeking country-specific exposure have two choices for accessing both Poland and Indonesia, and dozens of options for larger economies.

The free Head-to-Head ETF Comparison Tool is designed to facilitate side-by-side comparison of two ETFs, showing investors how each fund stacks up in terms of expenses, liquidity, structure, and performance. The five complete tabs of information also include a comparison of technical indicators and portfolio composition, allowing investors to analyze concentration and depth of holdings within multiple funds. ETFdb Pro members are additionally able to access a tab of descriptive information on each ETF, including region, sector, and asset class.

3. ETF Country Exposure Tool

For investors seeking equity exposure to a specific economy, ETFs can be extremely efficient tools. There are dozens of country-specific international ETFs available, including funds dedicated to economies as small as New Zealand and Chile. For those looking to find all the ETP options that include exposure to a specific country, the ETF Country Exposure Tool can be a useful resource. Starting with a map of the world, investors can either click on the desired country or select from a dropdown of international markets. That directs to a page showing non-leveraged equity ETFs that make significant allocations to that market, starting with any pure play options and going on to include funds that afford partial weightings. For example, the list of Australia ETFs starts with the pure play MSCI Australia Index Fund (EWA) and IQ Australia Small Cap ETF (KROO), both of which consist exclusively of Australian stocks. The list continues with funds that make significant allocations down under, such as DNH (about 92% of assets), EPP (65%) and DND (63%).

This tool can also be useful for identifying ETF options that offer moderate exposure to countries without a dedicated ETF. For example, there are no pure play Greece ETFs on the market. But using the country exposure tool reveals that the Guggenheim Shipping ETF (SEA) allocates about 14% of assets to this market, and that the Global X Aluminum ETF (ALUM) has a weighting of about 5% to Greek stocks.

4. ETF Stock Lookup Tool

Investors often have an interest in discovering which ETFs make a significant allocation to a certain stock, perhaps identifying funds that will be impacted by earnings reports or other meaningful events. The ETF Stock Lookup Tool gives investors a quick way to determine if any of the ETFs you own (or are considering owning) have a big weighting to a specific stock. Entering a ticker symbol generates a list of non-leveraged equity ETFs with exposure to that stock, starting with the biggest weighting and moving down the list (all ETFs that include that security in the top ten holdings are included). For example, the biggest weighting to GOOG stock comes in FDN, which puts roughly 10% of its holdings in the search engine giant. IAH makes the largest allocation to AAPL, while IYE has the biggest weighting to ExxonMobil (nearly a quarter of total assets).

5. Mutual Fund-To-ETF Converter

More and more investors are making the switch from mutual funds to ETFs, embracing the low expenses, transparency, and potentially superior tax efficiency of the exchange-traded structure. Mapping mutual fund holdings to ETF alternatives can be a challenging and time consuming task; the free Mutual Fund-to-ETF Converter tool was designed to speed this process along. Entering a mutual fund ticker presents investors with multiple sets of possible ETF alternatives, starting with any funds that seek to replicate the index against which the mutual fund is benchmarked. So entering in a fund benchmarked against the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (such as AAEPX) would display both EEM and VWO as “best fit” alternatives, since those ETFs seek to passively replicate the same index. Also included are any ETFs in the same ETFdb Category as the mutual fund benchmark; in the case of AAEPX, the second list displayed would include offerings such as GMM, FEM, and others.

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.