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Earnings Season Drives 4 Chip ETFs

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As I explained in yesterday's piece, "Five ETFs to Watch this Week," this week's busy earnings calendar is laden with companies hailing from across the technology industry. I highlighted the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Technology Sector Index Fund (IYW) as a product investors can turn to in order to gain adequate exposure to a number of these companies. However, hands-on investors can also tailor their IT exposure to suit their specific desires through a variety of subsector tech ETFs.

For instance, investors can use ETFs to home in on the semiconductor industry, which will be a major focus of this week's earnings-related press. Texas Instruments (TXN - Get Report) kicked things off on Monday and throughout the rest of the week, three other major names hailing from this region of the tech market will follow suit. Companies include Intel (INTC), Qualcomm (QCOM), and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

Fellow members of the chipmaker sector, Broadcom (BRCM), and Nvidia (NVDA) are slated for late April and May respectively.

Semiconductors have become interesting to watch in recent weeks as market commentators and analysts debate the total impact last month's Pacific earthquake and tsunami will have on production. As these companies report their earnings, investors will want to keep a close eye not only on performance, but guidance for the rest of the year.

Four ETFs stand out for investors looking for direct access to the semiconductor industry. While these funds are all designed to target the same slice of the tech sector, each product uses its own unique strategy that may appeal to different types of investors.

Boasting an average trading volume of more than 10 million, the Semiconductor HOLDRs (SMH) is the largest and most liquid option. It is important to note, however, that this fund is noticeably top heavy and therefore vulnerable to security-specific risk. Top holdings, Texas Instruments, Intel, and Applied Materials (AMAT) together account for half of the fund's assets.

The iShares PHLX SOX Semiconductor ETF's (SOXX) market cap weighted index is considerably less top heavy than SMH, making the fund a safer choice for conservative investors looking for exposure to top names. Like SMH, Texas Instruments, Intel, and Applied Materials are among the fund's largest holdings. However, these firms represent less than 25% of its index. In total, SOXX's ten largest positions account for 58% of its assets.
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