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Uranium Miners Dig Up Solid Returns

URA has had phenomenal success, attracting more than $215 million in assets under management since its launch in November 2010. It tracks the Solactive Global Uranium Index and holds 24 companies involved in uranium mining. Investors should be aware that URA's top three holdings carry a 43% weighting, with almost 20% going to Cameco. URA is also the most liquid ETF within the nuclear energy space and has an average daily dollar volume of over $5.5 million.

NLR and URA are considered high-beta plays on the nuclear energy sector and will be more volatile than PKN or NUCL. In yesterday's broad-market selloff, URA dropped 5.5% while NUCL dropped only 2.7%. The underlying holdings in NLR and URA also make the funds more vulnerable to volatility in uranium prices.

Even with the risks, NLR and URA garner tremendous investor attention. PKN and NUCL may provide more cushioning in a down market due to their broader exposure, but if the global economic recovery accelerates, and uranium prices continue their latest uptrend, expect URA and NLR to continue their outperformance. For nuclear energy bulls looking to juice their returns and ride the current commodity gravy train, URA and NLR may be the way to play nuclear energy.

At the time of publication, Hougan held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

Matt Hougan is president of ETF Analytics and global head of editorial for IndexUniverse. In this role, he serves as editor-in-chief of IndexUniverse.com and the Exchange-Traded Funds Report (ETFR), and senior editor of Journal of Indexes.

Under Hougan's leadership, the Exchange-Traded Funds Report is a repeat winner of the "Best ETF-Focused Publication" award at the Capital Link Closed-End Fund and Global ETF Conference. He was recently named to the ETFdb "ETF Hall of Fame."

Hougan graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in philosophy.

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