As the exchange-traded fund industry grows, fund issuers have developed creative new ways to maximize the returns of passive strategies. While non-traditional funds like Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X Shares ( FAS) and United States Natural Gas ( UNG) have gained popularity among many investors willing to take on the risk, companies like RevenueShares, WisdomTree and PowerShares are seeking to put a new twist on traditional investing. Shunning the popular market-cap weighting strategy employed by ETF giants like iShares and State Street ( STT), RevenueShares and WisdomTree are looking to increase investor returns through strategies that weight factors like dividends, earnings and revenue. PowerShares offers a line of "Dynamic" ETF products that allocate assets using a combination of performance data. In the last decade, cap weighting may have been king, but new breeds of funds have arrived. This article will be the first in a series that examines the alternative strategies to increase awareness of the growing ETF market.
Unlike WisdomTree or RAFI -- which have created branded indexes -- RevenueShares seeks to apply its revenue-weighting mechanism to known indexes. Like the well-known State Street Global Advisors SPDRs ETFs, RevenueShares has filed for all of the S&P industry sectors. RWL, for example, applies the revenue strategy to the same index that SPDR S&P ( SPY) and iShares S&P 500 Index ( IVV) track. RevenueShares has taken a measured approach to launching its ETF product line, not wanting to flood the market with funds. "We will only release ETFs one by one as the market demands them. The last thing we want to do is flood the market with ETFs that don't receive interest and trading volume from advisors, and thus fail," said Paul Weisbruch of RevenueShares. RevenueShares' familiar indexes and revenue approach make these funds appropriate for longer-term investors. Rather than tracking an extremely focused portion of the market, or resetting on a daily basis, RevenueShares' products are designed as a cheaper alternative to popular mutual funds. While investors will have to pay-up for the RevenueShares strategy -- IVV's 0.09% management fee is less than RWL's 0.49% -- the ETFs have done well in 2009. iShares S&P MidCap 400 Index ( IJH) is up 18.23% year to date, while RWK has jumped 30.62%. Investors should remain mindful, however, of lower volume in the RevenueShares ETF funds. While the structure of ETF products allows investors to jump quickly in and out of funds, RevenueShares' products are intended for a longer-term audience.