With so many other issues grabbing headlines this year, the roll out of the fifth generation of wireless networks (5G) is almost being lost in the shuffle. However, it’s continuing at a brisk pace, bringing with it some compelling investment implications that go beyond traditional telecom carriers and handset makers. As such, 5G ETFs have increasingly enjoyed their place in the limelight more recently.
The technological movement also carries with it other implications. For example, it’s relevant to rising geopolitical tensions as the next generation of wireless networking is seen as a technological arms race between the U.S. and China, one that pits the controversial Huawei of China against policymakers in North America. In fact, that Chinese telecom company was recently locked out of Canada’s 5G efforts.
All of that is to say there’s a lot happening in the 5G space right now, which can make stock picking in this universe difficult. With that in mind, investors may want to consider some of the following 5G exchange-traded funds for exposure to what remains an important and compelling theme:
- Pacer Benchmark Data & Infrastructure Real Estate ETF (NYSEARCA:SRVR)
- Defiance Next Gen Connectivity ETF (NYSEARCA:FIVG)
- Global X Internet of Things ETF (NASDAQ:SNSR)
- First Trust Indxx NextG ETF (NASDAQ:NXTG)
- Global X MSCI China Communication Services ETF (NYSEARCA:CHIC)
Let’s take a closer look at what makes each of these 5G ETFs hold promise.
Best 5G ETFs to Buy: Pacer Benchmark Data & Infrastructure Real Estate ETF (SRVR)
Expense Ratio: 0.60%, or $60 annually per $10,000 invested
In recent months, investors are becoming more familiar with what qualifies as an “essential” business and what does not. In the 5G space, the companies residing in the Pacer Benchmark Data & Infrastructure Real Estate ETF are essential and there’s no argument to be made. Put simply, 5G, or any other communications system, couldn’t exist and operate without the support of SRVR member firms.
What makes this one of the most unique 5G ETFs to buy is its focus. The SRVR ETF follows the Benchmark Data & Infrastructure Real Estate Sector, which is primarily comprised of data and infrastructure real estate investment trusts (REITs) and companies. REITs are an important area of focus for SRVR not only because these names are performing well, but also because many traditional REIT funds are not adequately allocated to these companies.
While the SRVR ETF offers ample credibility as a 5G ETF, it features some other perks as well. The “data” in the fund name refers to data centers. For those needing more confirmation that the data center investment theme is on fire, check out Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA).
Investors are catching on to SRVR’s ability to leverage both 5G and data centers. The fund has almost $661 million in assets under management, of which $407.55 million arrived just this year.
Defiance Next Gen Connectivity ETF (FIVG)
Expense Ratio: 0.30%
The Defiance Next Gen Connectivity ETF is a 5G ETF that deserves a lot of credit. It debuted in March 2019, before 5G roll out talk gained momentum, indicating the issuer had some foresight. Additionally, Defiance, an independent ETF sponsor, had the foresight to assign a low fee to FIVG. The expense ratio of 0.30% is low compared to other 5G ETFs and the fund is practically shaming its most direct competitor in this category on that basis.
Those factors and others have FIVG sporting nearly $305 million in assets, which is an excellent haul for a thematic fund of this age from a smaller issuer.
Of course, those traits don’t make investors money. The case for FIVG, which is up 20% over the past year and 11.35% over the past month, is its broad reach into an array of industries with credible 5G exposure. Those include gear manufacturers, handset makers, network operators and semiconductor producers, among others.
Global X Internet of Things ETF (SNSR)
Expense Ratio: 0.68%
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot investment theme that frequently intersects with 5G. As the lone dedicated IoT ETFs on the market, the Global X Internet of Things ETF is an ideal avenue for investors looking to capitalize on both themes under one umbrella.
“The Internet of Things (IoT) devices are those that either collect and send data, receive and respond to it, or do both,” according to Global X. “From this functionality comes use cases that span industries and exist at the convergence of myriad disruptive technologies – IoT data is stored in the cloud, processed by artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, and transmitted over remote 5G networks as instructions for connected-devices to follow.”
The $179 million in assets, SNSR features exposure to 5G telecommunications infrastructure companies as well as hardware and semiconductor companies with 5G footprints. SNSR is up 13.20% over the past month and is closing in on its all-time high.
First Trust Indxx NextG ETF (NXTG)
Expense Ratio: 0.70%
The First Trust Indxx NextG ETF bears mentioning because it’s the other dedicated 5G ETF in addition to the aforementioned FIVG. NXTG, which was born as a fund addressing a different theme, follows the Indxx 5G & NextG Thematic Index, providing somewhat similar exposure to the rival FIVG.
However, these funds aren’t identical twins. Not even close. That’s actually the reason why NXTG is worth highlighting; its nearly $450 million in assets under management are more of a testament to the issuer’s brand recognition and asset-gathering capabilities than anything that’s more meaningful to investors.
What “more meaningful” means in this case is that NXTG charges more than double the expense ratio of FIVG, while the First Trust product is lagging its independent rival by 160 basis points over the past year. In other words, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze with this 5G ETF.
Global X MSCI China Communication Services ETF (CHIC)
Expense Ratio: 0.66% per year
As noted above, China is a major force in the 5G race and the Global X MSCI China Communication Services ETF is one of the ideal ways for investors to make an ex-U.S. country-specific bet on 5G because the fund is home to China’s largest telecom and cellular network providers.
Investors should not interpret that to mean that CHIC is a boring, old school telecom ETF. Like its U.S. peers, addressing the communication services sector, CHIC is home to an array of growth-oriented internet, social media and streaming entertainment companies.
That helps defray much of the geopolitical risk that China’s 5G sector contends with. Plus, Chinese communication services stocks — even social media and streaming names — are more attractively valued than their U.S. rivals.
Todd Shriber has been an InvestorPlace contributor since 2014. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.