Our goal in this profile is to help investors wade through the many competing ETF offerings available. Using our long experience as an ETF publication, and nearly 40 years in the investment business, we can help select those ETFs that matter and may or may not be repetitive. The result is a more manageable list of issues from which to view and make selections.

There is currently an expanding list of nearly a dozen ETFs oriented to primarily to global REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) with more on the way no doubt. In the following analysis we stick with our top ten themes while mentioning, where applicable, other choices. Given the limited choices anyway it represents the ETFs available.

One caution for this list is many of the ETFs in the list are new and/or have low AUM (Assets under Management). This is a caution most investors should heed. While issuers in the list are substantial there's nothing to say an ETF won't fail or be rolled in with another if it becomes unprofitable. For most ETFs this means AUM over $25M at some point.

We're not ranking these ETFs favoring one over another so don't let the listing order mislead you. Although we may use some of these in ETF Digest portfolios it's not our intention to recommend one over another.

ETFs are based on indexes tied to well-known index providers including Russell, S&P, Barclays, MSCI, Dow Jones and so forth.

Where competitive issues exist and/or repetitive issues available at a fee cost saving we mention those as other choices.

REITs remain popular with investors seeking greater dividends and income although many current yields remain historically low perhaps misleading some investors expecting more. Further, some with higher dividends feature return of principal which should also be evaluated.

We feature a technical view of conditions from monthly chart views . Simplistically, we recommend longer-term investors stay on the right side of the 12 month simple moving average. When prices are above the moving average, stay long, and when below remain in cash or short. Premium members to the ETF Digest receive added signals when markets become extended such as DeMark triggers to exit overbought/oversold conditions.

RWX (SPDR DJ International Real Estate ETF) follows the Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Real Estate Securities Index which covers REITs and real estate markets in developed and emerging market countries. The fund was launched in December 2006. The expense ratio is .59%. AUM (Assets under Management) equal $2.3 billion and average daily trading volume is over 458K shares. As of early November 2011 the annual dividend was $3.53 making the current yield 9.90% and YTD return -7.98%.

Data as of November 2011

RWX Top Ten Holdings & Weightings
  1. Unibail-Rodamco SE (UL): 6.83%
  2. Westfield Group (WDC): 6.45%
  3. Brookfield Asset Management, Inc. (BAM): 6.03%
  4. Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. (8801): 5.55%
  5. Land Securities Group PLC (LAND): 3.14%
  6. Hang Lung Properties Ltd. (00101): 3.06%
  7. Westfield Retail Trust (WRT): 2.90%
  8. Link Real Estate Investment Trust (00823): 2.87%
  9. Dz Bk Ag ( Wts/Rts ): 2.71%
  10. Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd. (H78): 2.44%

IFGL (iShares FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed ETF) follows the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Real Estate ex-U.S. Index which follows REITs listed in markets outside the U.S. The fund was launched in November 2007. The expense ratio is .48%. AUM equal $358 million and average daily trading volume is 54K shares. As of early November 2011 the annual dividend was $1.08 making the current yield 7.00 and YTD return -7.92%.

Data as of November 2011

IFGL Top Ten Holdings & Weightings
  1. Sun Hung Kai Properties, Ltd. (00016): 6.25%
  2. Westfield Group (WDC): 4.41%
  3. Unibail-Rodamco SE (UL): 4.31%
  4. Mitsubishi Estate (8802): 3.88%
  5. Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. (8801): 3.49%
  6. Sumitomo Realty & Development Co., Ltd. (8830): 2.38%
  7. Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd. (H78): 2.18%
  8. Land Securities Group PLC (LAND): 2.01%
  9. Westfield Retail Trust (WRT): 1.94%
  10. Hang Lung Properties Ltd. (00101): 1.93%

RWO (SPDR DJ Global Real Estate ETF) follows the Dow Jones Global Select Real Estate Securities Index which is a float-adjusted market capitalization index measuring securities in developed and emerging market countries. The fund was launched in May 2008. The expense ratio is .50%. AUM equal $319 million and average daily trading volume is 107K shares. As of early November 2011 the annual dividend was $.2.66 making the current yield 7.26% and YTD return of -6.73%.

Data as of November 2011

RWO Top Ten Holdings & Weightings
  1. Simon Property Group Inc (SPG): 6.17%
  2. Unibail-Rodamco SE (UL): 3.02%
  3. Public Storage (PSA): 2.99%
  4. Westfield Group (WDC): 2.85%
  5. Equity Residential (EQR): 2.84%
  6. Brookfield Asset Management, Inc. (BAM): 2.66%
  7. HCP Inc (HCP): 2.65%
  8. Vornado Realty Trust Shs of Benef Int (VNO): 2.50%
  9. Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. (8801): 2.45%
  10. Ventas Inc (VTR): 2.39%

VNQI (Vanguard ex-U.S. Real Estate ETF) follows the S&P Global ex-U.S. Property Index which incorporates REITs in developed and emerging markets. The fund was launched in January 2010. The expense ratio is .35%. AUM equal $170 million and average daily trading volume is 31K shares. As of early November 2011 the annual dividend was negligible and YTD return of -9.96%.

Data as of November 2011

VNQI Top Ten Holdings & Weightings
  1. Sun Hung Kai Properties, Ltd. (00016): 3.54%
  2. Mitsubishi Estate (8802): 3.50%
  3. Unibail-Rodamco Se (UL): 3.42%
  4. Cheung Kong Holdings, Ltd. (00001): 3.23%
  5. Westfield Group (WDC): 3.20%
  6. Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. (8801): 2.31%
  7. Land Securities Group PLC (LAND): 1.72%
  8. Sumitomo Realty & Development Co., Ltd. (8830): 1.53%
  9. Stockland (STKAF): 1.42%
  10. British Land Co PLC (BLND): 1.41%

WPS (iShares Developed Real Estate ex-U.S. ETF) follows the S&P Developed ex-U.S. Property Index which measures the performance of property in developed countries outside the U.S. The fund was launched in July 2007. The expense ratio is .48%. AUM equal $125 million and average daily trading volume is less than 17K shares. As of early November 2011 the annual dividend was $1.92 making the current yield 6.40% and YTD return -9.34%.

Data as of November 2011

WPS Top Ten Holdings & Weightings
  1. Sun Hung Kai Properties, Ltd. (00016): 4.69%
  2. Mitsubishi Estate (8802): 4.65%
  3. Unibail-Rodamco SE (UL): 4.09%
  4. Westfield Group (WDC): 3.82%
  5. Cheung Kong Holdings, Ltd. (00001): 3.81%
  6. Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. (8801): 2.85%
  7. Sumitomo Realty & Development Co., Ltd. (8830): 2.14%
  8. Land Securities Group PLC (LAND): 1.89%
  9. Stockland (STKAF): 1.76%
  10. Link Real Estate Investment Trust (00823): 1.74%

DRW (WisdomTree Global ex-U.S. Real Estate ETF) follows the WisdomTree Global ex-U.S. Real Estate Index follows companies with market capitalizations greater than $1 billion including REITs, real estate operating companies, real estate development companies, and may include Passive Foreign Investment Companies (PFICs). The fund was launched in June 2006. The expense ratio is .58%. AUM equal $115 million and average daily trading volume is near 43K shares. As of early November 2011 the annual dividend was $3.24 making the current yield 13.35% (much of this return of principal) and YTD return -8.48%.

Data as of November 2011

DRW Top Ten Holdings & Weightings
  1. Westfield Group (WDC): 8.66%
  2. Sun Hung Kai Properties, Ltd. (00016): 3.90%
  3. Stockland (STKAF): 3.40%
  4. Cheung Kong Holdings, Ltd. (00001): 3.33%
  5. Unibail-Rodamco SE (UL): 2.82%
  6. CFS Retail Property Trust (CFX): 2.22%
  7. GPT Group (GPT): 2.19%
  8. Mirvac Group (MGR): 1.85%
  9. Daito Trust Construction Co Ltd. (1878): 1.61%
  10. Hang Lung Properties Ltd. (00101): 1.60%

FFR (First Trust EPRA/NAREIT Global Real Estate ETF) follow the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Index which tracks companies in the North American, European and Asian markets. The fund was launched August 2007. The expense ratio is .60%. AUM equal $67 million and average daily trading volume is less than 23K shares. As of early November 2011 the annual dividend was $1.26 making the current yield 4.00% and YTD return -2.34%.

Data as of November 2011

FFR Top Ten Holdings & Weightings
  1. Simon Property Group Inc (SPG): 4.52%
  2. Sun Hung Kai Properties, Ltd. (00016): 3.11%
  3. Westfield Group (WDC): 2.40%
  4. Mitsubishi Estate (8802): 2.38%
  5. Unibail-Rodamco SE (UL): 2.29%
  6. Equity Residential (EQR): 2.14%
  7. HCP Inc (HCP): 2.00%
  8. Ventas Inc (VTR): 1.99%
  9. Public Storage (PSA): 1.99%
  10. Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. (8801): 1.96%

GRI (Cohen & Steers Global Realty ETF) follows the Chen & Steers Global Realty Majors Index which is a free-float adjusted, modified market capitalization-weighted index of global real estate equities that are selected by Cohen & Steers investment committee. The fund was launched in May 2008. The expense ratio is .55%. AUM equal $54 million with average daily trading volume 10K shares. As of early November 2011 the annual dividend was $2.21 making the current dividend yield over 6.35% and YTD return -2.19%.

Data as of November 2011

GRI Top Ten Holdings & Weightings
  1. Simon Property Group Inc (SPG): 4.44%
  2. Mitsubishi Estate (8802): 4.33%
  3. Sun Hung Kai Properties, Ltd. (00016): 3.61%
  4. Unibail-Rodamco SE (UL): 3.56%
  5. Westfield Group (WDC): 3.46%
  6. Public Storage (PSA): 3.36%
  7. Equity Residential (EQR): 3.30%
  8. HCP Inc (HCP): 3.07%
  9. Ventas Inc (VTR): 3.06%
  10. Vornado Realty Trust Shs of Benef Int (VNO): 2.97%

IFAS (iShares FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Asia ETF) follows the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Asia Index. The fund was launched in November 2007. The expense ratio is .48%. AUM equal $21 million and average daily trading volume is 5K shares. As of early November 2011 the annual dividend was $1.07 making the current yield 2.40% and YTD return of -13.10%.  

A sister offering is IFEU (iShares FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Europe ETF) which follows the same methodology as IFAS but applied to European offerings. The fund was launched in November 2007. The expense ratio is .48%. AUM equal $16 million with average daily volume is 7K shares. For the same period the dividend was $.98 making the current yield 6% and YTD return of -6%.

 

Data as of November 2011

IFAS Top Ten Holdings & Weightings
  1. Sun Hung Kai Properties, Ltd. (00016): 9.32%
  2. Westfield Group (WDC): 6.76%
  3. Mitsubishi Estate (8802): 6.42%
  4. Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. (8801): 5.03%
  5. Sumitomo Realty & Development Co., Ltd. (8830): 3.94%
  6. Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd. (H78): 3.34%
  7. Hang Lung Properties Ltd. (00101): 3.02%
  8. Wharf holdings (00004): 3.01%
  9. Westfield Retail Trust (WRT): 2.96%
  10. Stockland (STKAF): 2.87%

TAO (Guggenheim Alpha Shares China Real Estate ETF) which tracks the Alpha Shares China Real Estate Index which covers the greater China region including Special Administrative Regions like Macau and Hong Kong. It was launched in December 2007. The expense ratio is .65%. AUM equal $26 million and average daily trading volume is 33K shares. As of early November 2011 the annual dividend was $.15 making the current yield .90% and YTD of -18.10%.

Data as of November 2011

TAO Top Ten Holdings & Weightngs
  1. Link Real Estate Investment Trust (00823): 6.86%
  2. China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. (00688): 6.02%
  3. Cheung Kong Holdings, Ltd. (00001): 5.35%
  4. Sun Hung Kai Properties, Ltd. (00016): 5.06%
  5. Wharf holdings (00004): 4.96%
  6. Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd. (H78): 4.94%
  7. Sino Land Co. Ltd. (00083): 4.89%
  8. Swire Pacific Ltd. (00019): 4.68%
  9. Henderson Land Development Co., Ltd. (00012): 4.65%
  10. Hang Lung Properties Ltd. (00101): 4.63%

Most overseas REITs have featured modestly to sharply negative results in 2011. Remember with REITs you have to watch dividends which often just represent return of principal.

As stated with other sectors, remember ETF sponsors must issue and their interests aren't aligned with yours. They have a business interest and wish to have a competitive presence in any popular sector.

For further information about portfolio structures using technical indicators like DeMark and other indicators, take a free 14-day trial at ETF Digest . Follow us on Twitter and Facebook as well and join our group conversations.

You may address any feedback to: feedback@etfdigest.com   

The ETF Digest has current positions in the RWX.

(Source for data is from ETF sponsors and various ETF data providers)
This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

Dave Fry is founder and publisher of ETF Digest, Dave's Daily blog and the best-selling book author of Create Your Own ETF Hedge Fund, A DIY Strategy for Private Wealth Management, published by Wiley Finance in 2008. A detailed bio is here: Dave Fry.

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