Prior to releasing the GLD a year ago, Boston-based State Street more resembled an aging rock star than a chart-topping sensation. The company, which invented the ETF back in 1993 with the S&P 500-based Spyders (SPY), was leaning heavily on its greatest hits like the Select Sector SPDRs and the Dow Diamonds (DIA) instead of developing new products and grabbing share in what was at the time a wide-open market.
As a result, State Street ceded its dominance over the industry to rival Barclay's Global Investors, which not only took the ball, but ran with it -- far and fast. BGI currently dominates the $260 billion ETF market via its 101 funds, with a total take of $158 billion in assets.
When it comes to their head-to-head loss over the gold ETF, a BGI spokeswoman preferred to look ahead to the next set of commodity-based ETFs.
"The iShares COMEX Gold Trust (IAU) is the first of, we hope, a broad lineup of commodities iShares products," says a spokeswoman for BGI, which currently has two more commodities iShares filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, silver and GSCI's broad commodities index. "No two commodities are alike because the nuts and bolts of owning, taking delivery and accounting for each commodity is different."Overall, SSgA remains a distant second to BGI, with 32 funds worth close to $80 billion. Nine of those funds were released Tuesday in a big splash at the American Stock Exchange>, which, by the way, is fighting to preserve its own lead in the escalating ETF wars. Last July, BGI announced it was shifting the primary listings of 81 iShares ETFs to the New York Stock Exchange and its new partner Archipelago (AX). Among State Street's new additions is the SPDR Dividend (SDY) ETF, which tracks the Standard & Poor's High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index and will compete against the iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index (DVY). State Street launched the other eight ETFs under the streetTRACKS brand, including three ETFs based on bank, capital markets and insurance indexes from financial services specialist Keefe Bruyette and Woods. The remaining five funds are style-specific, tracking an array of Dow Jones Wilshire indices, in an effort to broaden SSgA's product offerings.