UNG) , a futures backed product plagued contango and targeted by regulators, FCG tracks a basket of companies dedicated to the exploration and production of this fuel. FCG is designed to track the ISE-Revere Natural Gas Index. Unlike a market cap weighted index, this basket of companies is equal weighted. According to the First Trust website, constituents chosen for the index are determined based on a number of metrics including price/earnings ratio, price/book ratio, return on equity and correlation to natural gas future prices. In the end, a total of 30 companies are chosen to represent the index. FCG's make-up is not permanent. Each quarter, First Trust evaluates the natural gas industry based on the stated criteria and makes any needed changes. While some of these are minor tweaks, as shown by the fund's current state, dramatic changes can and do occur. Comparing the fund's current index to that of May 31, 2010 (a month after and a month before the rebalancing), one can see a number of significant alterations. Before the rebalancing, FCG's top five holdings included firms such as Mariner Energy ( ME), Pioneer Natural Resources ( PXD), Cimarex Energy ( XEC) EOG, and Questar ( STR).
Today, FCG's top holdings have shifted to include XOM, Anadarko ( APC), STR, Royal Dutch Shell ( RDS.A), and Noble Energy ( NBL). Other notable holdings not present in the past include Total ( TOT) and Hess. The top holdings highlight a shift in the fund towards large, integrated energy conglomerates that occurred after its June rebalancing. Furthermore, XOM is twice as large as the rest of the holdings due to its merger with XTO Energy ( XTO) , which was also a holding in FCG. Shifting towards integrated oil companies may pose an issue to diehards who have relied on FCG for exposure to companies solely dedicated to natural gas production. However, personally I still see FCG as a reliable alternative to playing the natural gas industry than other options like UNG. In fact, looking at the fund's current breakdown, the fund may hold more promise than ever. Thanks to the recent bout of economic turmoil and BP's continued struggle to clean up the Gulf of Mexico, many of these successful, high yielding, integrated oil companies have gotten battered, despite seeing stable oil prices and a rebounding natural gas picture. Their low valuations have helped them fit the criteria for inclusion in the portfolio of FCG and when they at last rebound, FCG will be well suited to take advantage. FCG's shift highlights the transparent nature of the ETF industry. Although the portfolios of non-traditional indexing strategies can sometimes change, investors can visit a fund's Website and keep tabs on their ETFs' underlying holdings to ensure that they continue to coincide with their personal investing goals. -- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.
Readers Also Like: