State ETFs Fall Short

State ETFs have merit but two recently launched funds in Oklahoma and Texas need more work on their portfolio exposure.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- State-focused ETFs are an interesting idea, but the recently launched Texas and Oklahoma funds have fallen short of the mark.

The idea of offering investors a way to profit from differences in state economies, regulations and taxes, is compelling. The

Oklahoma Exchange Traded Fund

(OOK)

and

TXF Large Companies ETF

(TXF)

, however, contain large companies that offer little exposure to the economies of the states.

The launch of Texas-focused TXF this week and OOK last week show that, although ETFs have sliced the market thinly, there are still plenty of niches waiting to be filled.

On Wednesday, the

TXF Large Companies ETF

(TXF)

began actively trading. TXF's index is made up of some of the largest companies headquartered in the Lone Star State. The instrument's underlying index, the SPADE Texas Index, boasts big names such as

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

,

Schlumberger

(SLB) - Get Report

, and

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

.

In looking at the sector breakdown, it is evident that this fund is a strong play on the oil and gas industry. The firms in these sectors comprise over 63% of the index's holdings. Technology is the next largest industry in the index, accounting for a little less than 9%.

In order to gain access to the SPADE Texas index, firms must meet a number of specific criteria. Besides being headquartered in Texas, companies need to be on the NYSE or the NASDAQ, have a minimum $100 million market valuation, a minimum daily sale price of $5 and be able to maintain liquidity.

OOK can also be considered primarily an energy play. According to the fund's Website, "initially, a large percentage of the Fund's assets may be invested in companies in the energy business." The fund tracks the SPADE Oklahoma Index, which consists of companies that are publicly traded and that have their headquarters or principal place of business in Oklahoma.

Top holdings in OOK include

Chesapeake Energy

(CHK) - Get Report

,

Devon Energy

(DVN) - Get Report

and

Continental Resources

(CLR) - Get Report

. Both OOK and TXF have 0.85% expense ratios, which are reasonable for a focused fund, but high for a U.S.-based equity strategy.

State-focused strategies could be a hard sell for investors accustomed to using ETFs to access specific portions of the market or long-term strategies. Rather than buying a gold or large- cap fund, where you can be reasonably certain about what it will hold over time, holdings in a state-focused fund could change dramatically depending on the local landscape.

Both ETFs donate a portion of management fees to charity. No less than 10% of the TXF's management fees for both funds will be donated to Aaron's Bridge, a foundation aimed at facilitating access to more treatment options for Oklahoma youth with developmental disorders including autism.

I like the idea ETFs that offer unique baskets that takes time and research for an individual unfamiliar with that market to assemble, but in the case of a state, the companies should derive their revenue from the state, not just their headquarters. Investors who want to find securities that reflect the economy of Texas will still have to do some digging, though the list of components in TXF may provide a starting point.

Regional ETFs would seem to make the most sense in this space due to the larger size of the economy. A Southeast-themed fund or Pacific Northwest ETF may make more sense for the long term. There are plenty of REITs, retailers, restaurants, insurers, etc., with regional footprints.

-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

A special note from Don: To put it simply, I want to help you profit from ETFs. You don't have to be an expert trader -- there are potential profits for investors at every level. And I think there's no better way to jump into the world of ETFs than my brand new service, TheStreet ETF Action by Don Dion. Membership is limited, so click here to get in on the action!

At the time of publication, Dion did not have any positions in the equities mentioned.

Don Dion is president and founder of

Dion Money Management

, a fee-based investment advisory firm to affluent individuals, families and nonprofit organizations, where he is responsible for setting investment policy, creating custom portfolios and overseeing the performance of client accounts. Founded in 1996 and based in Williamstown, Mass., Dion Money Management manages assets for clients in 49 states and 11 countries. Dion is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and Maine and has more than 25 years' experience working in the financial markets, having founded and run two publicly traded companies before establishing Dion Money Management.

Dion also is publisher of the Fidelity Independent Adviser family of newsletters, which provides to a broad range of investors his commentary on the financial markets, with a specific emphasis on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. With more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and 29 other countries, Fidelity Independent Adviser publishes six monthly newsletters and three weekly newsletters. Its flagship publication, Fidelity Independent Adviser, has been published monthly for 11 years and reaches 40,000 subscribers.