5 Top Biotechnology ETFs | INN

For investors looking for less volatility compared to stocks, here’s an overview of the five largest biotechnology ETFs for consideration.

Investing in biotech industry can be a long road to gains given the sector’s volatility. 

Even with a good understanding of the system, no one can predict which biotechnology treatment, device or therapy will give the biggest return, which makes biotechnology exchange-traded funds (ETFs) a more secure option than an individual biotech stock.

An ETF is a safe investment route that can minimize losses while offering exposure to multiple companies instead of focusing on the gains and losses of a single biotech stock.


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With that in mind, here’s a brief look at the five top biotechnology ETFs by total assets. Data was sourced from on March 22, 2021, and all data was current as of that time.

1. iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ:IBB)

Total assets: US$10.48 billion

The iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology ETF was launched on February 5, 2001, and tracks over 280 holdings. According to its profile, the iShares ETF is a diversified fund in that it provides exposure to biotechnology, pharmaceutical and life science tools and services. Its overarching investment goal is to track NASDAQ-listed companies focused on these areas.

The fund’s top three holdings are: Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), weighted at 8.42 percent; Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) with a 6.72 percent weight; and Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) at a weight of 4.86 percent.

2. ARK Genomic Revolution Multi-Sector ETF (ARCA:ARKG)

Total assets: US$10.08 billion

The ARK Genomic Revolution Multi-Sector ETF came into existence on October 31, 2014, and tracks 56 holdings. This ETF has a specific industry area of focus, and follows companies that develop products such as: CRISPR technology, bioinformatics, molecular diagnostics and stem cells.

The top biotechnology ETF’s three most significant  company holdings are: Teladoc Health (NYSE:TDOC) at a weight of 7.14 percent; Exact Sciences (NASDAQ:EXAS) at 4.96 percent; and Pacific Biosciences of California (NASDAQ:PACB) at 8.24 percent.

3. SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (ARCA:XBI)

Total assets: US$7.51 billion

Established on February 6, 2006, the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF is a largely equally weighted fund that focuses mostly on biotech companies with a small mix of pharmaceutical companies. As noted by, this ETF’s investment objective is small- and micro-cap companies, which makes the weight of each holding smaller than the holdings of other ETFs in this sector.


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The SPDR S&P Biotech ETF has 170 companies in its portfolio, with the top three being: Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX), which has a 1.49 percent weighting; Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:LGND), weighted at 1.53 percent; and Vir Biotechnology (NASDAQ:VIR), representing a 1.47 percent weight.

4. First Trust Amex Biotechnology Index (ARCA:FBT)

Total assets: US$1.98 billion

The First Trust Amex Biotechnology Index entered the market on June 23, 2006, and aims to track as closely as it can the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index. Companies in this fund are generally involved in areas such as recombinant DNA technology, molecular biology, genetic engineering and genomics.

The fund has only 31 holdings; this means they are largely equally weighted and that the assets are relatively balanced. The top three holdings of the fund are the following large-cap companies: Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR) at a 4.59 percent weighting; Illumina, representing a 3.98 percent weight; and Agios Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AGIO), coming in at a 3.97 percent weight.

5. Direxion Daily S&P Biotech Bull 3x Shares ETF (ARCA:LABU)

Total assets: US$667.38 million

Founded on May 28, 2015, the Direxion Daily S&P Biotech Bull 3x Shares ETF is not your traditional ETF that mirrors an index. Instead, its goal is to obtain daily investment results of at least 300 percent of the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index.

Like the other ETFs on this list, companies in the Direxion Daily S&P Biotech Bull 3x Shares ETF have an equally weighted average. Some of its top holdings include: Novavax, which has a 1.25 percent weight; Ligand Pharmaceuticals, with a weight of 1.18 percent; and Vir Biotechnology at a weight of 1.14 percent.

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2016.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_LifeScience for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.


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