Consumer Tech ETF for Emerging Markets

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Tech specialists and top industry representatives are convening in Las Vegas this week to take part in the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show.

While always a popular event for consumers looking to find out what their favorite tech companies have been up to, this tradeshow also provides investors with important information regarding the state of the sector and global consumer.

Aside from flashy product unveils, a number of top industry executives are slated to share their takes on the industry. On Monday evening, Microsoft ( MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer took center stage to give the preshow keynote address, followed by top officials from companies such as Qualcomm ( QCOM), Intel ( INTC) and Ford ( F).

With ample exposure to many of the names highlighted above, broad-based tech ETFs like the PowerShares QQQ Portfolio ( QQQ) and iShares Dow Jones U.S. Technology Sector Index Fund ( IWM) will be interesting to watch as the CES keeps the tech sector in focus this week. Although it is famous for its consistent absence from the convention, even Apple ( AAPL) tends to get a great deal of coverage over the course of the festivities.

The cloud, personal gadgets, and other burgeoning corners of the tech landscape are expected to draw big crowds this year. This fanfare will help to thrust companies like Google ( GOOG), Amazon ( AMZN) and Cisco ( CSCO) into the spotlight. ETF investors can turn to niche-focused tech funds like the First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index Fund ( FDN) and First Trust ISE Cloud Computing Index Fund ( SKYY) to gain access to these names.

It may not be the first fund that comes to mind, but the Emerging Global Consumer ETF ( ECON) is another product that aggressive ETF investors may want to keep an eye on in the days ahead. 3D TVs, smartphones, and ultrabooks may draw the biggest crowds in Las Vegas. However, in their plans for the future, companies are increasingly turning their collective attentions towards products designed for the blossoming emerging markets.

According to industry analysts, tech spending is forecasted to breach the $1 trillion mark for the first time in 2012. The increasing purchasing power of consumers in the developing world will be essential to achieving this goal. According to a report from AFP, this demographic is expected to account for 46% of tech sales this year. This is up significantly from years previous. At the same time that emerging nations are gaining ground, the developed world is seeing its lead erode. Long term, one researcher forecasts that global tech spending from the developed world is on track to dip below 50%.

In the past, I have pointed investors towards small cap funds like the Market Vectors Brazil Small Cap Index ETF ( BRF) and the Guggenheim China Small Cap ETF ( HAO) in order to take aim at emerging market consumers. While effective, investors looking to take broader brush strokes may be left wanting more.

By targeting goods and service providers hailing from nations like Mexico, India, China, and South Africa, ECON allows investors to cast a wide net over the emerging consumer sector, taking advantage of strengthening middle classes around the globe.

ECON's investment theme has caught on; with an average trading volume over 100,000, the fund appears on track to secure its spot within the ETF canon.

In the week ahead, it will be exciting to see what tech leaders have to say about the future of their industry. While tech ETFs may be the most obvious choice given the news of the day, investors may also be able to uncover some unique investment opportunities here.

Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

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At the time of publication, Dion Money Management owned the PowerShares QQQ Portfolio and First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index Fund.

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