ETFs For The Touchscreen Revolution

by on July 23, 2012 | ETFs Mentioned:

With clouds of uncertainty looming over much of the global economy, investors are searching far and wide for lucrative growth opportunities in a landscape otherwise characterized by debt drama and stagnation. The technology sector remains perhaps as one of the most exciting corners of the market given the sheer need for innovation across industrial processes and ever-expanding demand for more advanced consumer products. The rising popularity of touchscreen devices in particular showcases how consumer demand for innovative electronics continues to be a key driving force in the worldwide technology sector [see also High Tech ETFdb Portfolio].

Touchscreen Trend Taking Off

The touchscreen revolution, as many are calling it, has begun to take root and the evidence is all right in front of us. Tablets and smartphones are booming in popularity across all demographics as consumers have undoubtedly embraced touchscreens; in fact, industry bellwether Intel recently had to pay Taiwanese touchscreen component manufacturers ahead of schedule to ensure they would have sufficient inventory. What’s even more interesting is that Intel (INTC) recently issued a worse-than-expected earnings report, while at the same time citing that the rapidly growing popularity of tablet computers and smartphones has eroded demand for personal computers.

Paul Otellini, Intel’s CEO, also commented on how the company was actively developing over 40 designs of ultrabook computers that would have touch-sensitive screens similar to Apple’s (AAPL) wildly popular iPad and iPhone. Increasing competition from Samsung devices and Microsoft’s (MSFT) recently announced Surface further showcase how the touchscreen revolution is thriving on, and at the same time bolstering, innovation in the technology sector [see also Technology ETFs: Social Media, SSDs, Smartphones and More].

Ways To Play

While there’s no ETF that focuses specifically on touchscreen manufacturers, several targeted products do provide a focused strategy that allows investors to gain exposure to some of the biggest names in this hot corner of the technology sector. Below we take a look at several ETFs that may offer a compelling case for those looking to make a bullish bet on the ever-expanding touchscreen segment of the tech market:

  • iShares S&P Global Technology Index Fund (IXN): This ETF holds a deep portfolio of over 100 technology stocks from around the globe, offering investors broad-based exposure to this corner of the market. Companies with an already enormous, and growing, presence in the world of touchscreen device,s including Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Intel, are included in the top ten holdings [see also Hyper-Targeted Tech ETFs].
  • Van Eck Market Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH): Taking a long position in the semiconductor industry is a viable indirect bet on the touchscreen revolution. The investment thesis here is fairly straightforward; thinner and more intelligent electronics devices require the development of innovative, smaller and ultimately faster components.  Top holdings in SMH include Intel, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Broadcom, which is a major supplier of components to tech giant Apple.
  • UBS ETRACS ISE Solid State Drive Index ETF (SSDD): Improving storage capacity has been an underlying theme in the history of technological advancements, moving from oversized floppy drives to CDs and now to super-slim memory cards. As such, solid state drives, which are smaller, less prone to damage and much faster than traditional hard drives, are seeing explosive demand from device manufacturers who are looking to offer thinner products without sacrificing performance. SSDD offers hyper-targeted exposure to companies in this corner of the market; top holdings include Western Digital, Seagate Technology and OCZ Technology [see also 25 Things Every Financial Advisor Should Know About ETFs].
  • First Trust NASDAQ CEA Smartphone Index (FONE): The touchscreen revolution has taken off largely thanks to the success and growing adoption rate of touch-sensitive smartphones. FONE offers a compelling way to tap into the touchscreen trend by focusing on nearly 70 companies who are engaged in the smartphone industry; this ETF is incredibly well-balanced, offering exposure to a basket of well-known firms including Motorola Mobility, Apple, Research In Motion, Kyocera and Samsung.

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.