The more recent "hits" of investment fashion -- water and "Chindia" -- are mixed with some "misses" of the past year in the latest crop of 36 exchange-traded funds to receive grades from Ratings.

Mixed in with the new class of rated ETFs in the accompanying table are some that achieved success by betting against the beleaguered U.S. dollar and others that have been capitalizing on the flight to safety for which many wounded investors have been opting.

Water, described as "the next oil" by many investors, helped the

Claymore S&P Global Water ETF

(CGW) - Get Invesco S&P Global Water Index ETF Report

achieve a nine-digit asset value in little more than a year. But CGW's anemic total return of barely more than a single percentage point over the past year, coupled with a fractional slide in 2008 through the end of May, is surpassed by the

First Trust ISE Water Index Fund

(FIW) - Get First Trust Water ETF Report

. The latter has rewarded its holders with a total return of 13.55% for the past year and 6.20% for 2008's first five months.

Another ETF hit from First Trust is in the fashionable "Chindia" genre -- portfolios combining investments from populous China and India -- the

First Trust ISE Chindia Index Fund

(FNI) - Get First Trust Chindia ETF Report

. Although up by 14.79% over the past 12 months, it is off by almost a similar percentage for the first five months of this year.

Investors can bet against the U.S. dollar with the

iPath EUR Exchange Rate ETN


, the

iPath GBP/USD Exchange Rate ETN


and the

iPath JPY/USD Exchange Rate ETN

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All three are ahead for the past 12 months and the year to date, with the euro and the yen ETNs enjoying gains in the double digits over that period. (ETNs are similar in structure to ETFs, but they base their values on notes rather than equities or bonds.)

For investors wishing to avoid the nervous stock market, the SPDR series of ETFs has a number of fixed-income entries that are now graded by Ratings. They range from the shortest term Treasuries, the

SPDR Lehman 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF

(BIL) - Get SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF Report

, to the extended maturity

SPRD Lehman Long Term Treasury ETF


. Investors opting for safety with these have been rewarded with positive returns over the past year, with the inflation-protected

SPRD Barclays Capital TIPS ETF


up 12.86% for the period.

In the lowest possible "E" range of grades are five real estate ETFs from iShares kept company by the

First Trust S&P REIT Index Fund

(FRI) - Get First Trust S&P REIT Index Fund Report

. All six have suffered double-digit setbacks in the last year, with the subprime mortgage crunch helping to drive down the

iShares FTSE NAREIT Mortgage REIT

(REM) - Get iShares Mortgage Real Estate ETF Report

, which has crumbled 44.19% over the past 12 months.

Richard Widows is a senior financial analyst for Ratings. Prior to joining, Widows was senior product manager for quantitative analytics at Thomson Financial. After receiving an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University in California, his career included development of investment information systems at data firms, including the Lipper division of Reuters. His international experience includes assignments in the U.K. and East Asia.