Energy funds hitch a ride with Elon Musk

Two PowerShares ETFs offer exposure to Tesla and SolarCity.

By Benzinga May 29, 2013 12:53PM
Electrical plug copyright Jupiterimages, Getty Images, Getty ImagesBy The ETF Professor

Shares of electric maker Tesla (TSLA) soared Tuesday on volume that was more than double the daily average, a move that helped the darling stock touch a new all-time high at $110.33. 

Tesla's bullish ways are helping the PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio (PBW) to a gain of almost 1.1%. PBW, one of many alternative energy ETFs left for dead last year, has been reborn as the Elon Musk ETF (Benzinga) due to the fund's combined 10.7% weight to Tesla and SolarCity (SCTY), Musk's two companies.

PBW is not the only ETF from the PowerShares lineup that is benefiting from investors' adulation of Musk. Though to a smaller degree, the PowerShares Global Clean Energy Portfolio (PBD) is another option to consider for grabbing simultaneous exposure to Tesla and SolarCity.

PBD, which tracks the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, features Musk's two companies as its two largest holdings, as does PBW. In the case of PBD, Tesla and SolarCity combine for nearly 8% of the ETF's weight.

That is not a huge allocation to those high-flying stocks, but is enough to have pushed PBD to a new 52-week high Tuesday on volume that was almost 50% higher than normal. The ascent of SolarCity and Tesla to rock star status has been a boon for PBD as the ETF is now flirting with a one-month gain of 14%.

To put the impact of Tesla and SolarCity on PBD into dollar terms, look at situation this way: Through the first four months of this year, the ETF gained 27 cents. In the past month, the ETF is up $1.28.

Investors are discovering the utility of PBD as an alternative Elon Musk ETF. For the week ending May 27, the ETF pulled in almost $3.8 million of its $73.5 million in assets under management, according to PowerShares data.

Other top-10 holdings in the ETF include First Solar (FSLR) and SunPower (SPWR). Investors should note PBD is not fully allocated to U.S. equities. Rather, the U.S. accounts for just over 41% of the ETF's country weight and the fund features a combined 23.2% weight to emerging markets China, Brazil, Taiwan and South Korea.

Tesla shares pared some of Tuesday's gains on Wednesday, but are still trading above $100. 

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