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Morningstar, iShares and Ric Edelman say these are the most innovative stocks

A new ETF reveals a sample of what could be the most innovative and disruptive publicly traded companies, at least according to research firm Morningstar, ETF provider iShares and media-savvy financial adviser Ric Edelman.

Those three juggernauts of the investing world have teamed up to launch the iShares Exponential Technologies ETF XT, -0.31% which began trading Monday.

The exchange-traded fund offers a way to bet on “leaders across key areas of technological transformation—from big data and analytics to nanotechnology and bioinformatics,” said iShares parent BlackRock BLK, -1.40% in a news release Tuesday. Other buzzy areas targeted by the fund include robotics, 3-D printing, neuroscience, financial innovation and environmental systems.

Older ETFs that compete with this new product are offerings from ARK Investment Management and BioShares, plus a medical breakthroughs ETFSBIO, -0.79% and a robotics ETF ROBO, -0.16% according to Eric Balchunas, senior ETF analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. But the new iShares product is “sort of like a greatest hits collection,” Balchunas told MarketWatch in a tweet. The exponential tech ETF’s launch comes 15 years after the tech-stock crash, as some strategists say this time is different.

Edelman gets credit for the idea behind the ETF. Morningstar MORN, +0.19% research analysts developed the index that the fund tracks, and they plan to reassess the index at least annually. Edelman’s company likely will put hundreds of millions of dollars into the ETF on behalf of clients, and “moderate-risk” clients might see around 4% of their invested assets go into it, reports Trevor Hunnicutt of Investment News.

The table below shows the exponential tech ETF’s 20 biggest holdings. The ETF’s index is equally weighted at its yearly reconstitution, but for now some components are larger than others, reflecting their performance since the index’s launch. An iShares Web page lists all of the ETF’s roughly 200 holdings, and the ETF’s prospectus features gems such as: “Technologies perceived to displace older technologies or create new markets may not in fact do so.”

Top 20 holdings for ETF that looks for tech’s ‘greatest hits’
TickerNameWeight (%)SectorCountry
PCYCPHARMACYCLICS INC0.901Health CareU.S.
USDUSD CASH0.730Cash and/or DerivativesU.S.
SWKSSKYWORKS SOLUTIONS INC0.678Information TechnologyU.S.
VRXVALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS0.678Health CareCanada
FSLRFIRST SOLAR INC0.667Information TechnologyU.S.
SPWRSUNPOWER CORP.0.662Information TechnologyU.S.
MNKMALLINCKRODT PLC0.638Health CareU.S.
STMSTMICROELECTRONICS NV0.623Information TechnologyFrance
BMRNBIOMARIN PHARMACEUTICAL INC0.623Health CareU.S.
CRLCHARLES RIVER LABORATORIES0.613Health CareU.S.
ENDPENDO INTERNATIONAL PLC0.612Health CareU.S.
BIIBBIOGEN IDEC INC0.611Health CareU.S.
TMUST MOBILE US INC0.606TelecommunicationsU.S.
AIRAIRBUS GROUP NV0.600IndustrialsFrance
PRXLPAREXEL INTERNATIONAL CORP.0.598Health CareU.S.
NFLXNETFLIX INC0.593Consumer DiscretionaryU.S.
HOLXHOLOGIC INC.0.591Health CareU.S.
LHLABORATORY COP. OF AMERICA0.586Health CareU.S.
CTSHCOGNIZANT TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS0.585Information TechnologyU.S.
AMZNAMAZON.COM INC0.582Consumer DiscretionaryU.S.

Source: iShares.com data as of 3/23/15


Victor Reklaitis