One ASX ETF that could boost the returns of an investment portfolio is the ETFS S&P Biotech ETF (ASX: CURE). Below I list some of the opportunities and risks for CURE but first, ETF 101.

About ETFs

Exchange traded funds, or ETFs, are investment funds that are listed on a securities exchange. They can be managed funds or index funds, or in other words, active or passive, and the fees are usually lower than an unlisted investment fund.

To learn more about ETFs, check out the Rask Finance video below or take a free course on the www.raskfinance.com website.

Typically, ETFs give an investor exposure to many different shares or assets with a single purchase, offering one of the quickest and easiest methods of achieving diversification. The Best ETFs Australia website provides a list of all ASX ETFs.

S&P Biotech ETF

The ETFS S&P Biotech ETF is run by a company called ETF Securities (ETFS), Australia’s second-oldest ETF provider.

As the name suggests, this ETF invests in US-based biotechnology companies and is designed to track the performance of the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index before fees and expenses.

The ETF has around 124 holdings with the largest holding making up just 2.16% of the portfolio. The two largest holdings are Array BioPharma Inc (NASDAQ: ARRY), a $10 billion company, and Global Blood Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: GBT).

In terms of market capitalisation, around 57.1% of the ETF is allocated to small caps and 8.2% to large caps.

This ETF has been operating for less than a year, but year-to-date it has returned 21.83%. Over a five-year period, the index that it tracks has returned 18.29% per annum.

Fees and Risk

The management fee for CURE is 0.45% per year, which is broadly in line with some of the other growth ETFs mentioned in this article, although there are cheaper options around.

The main risk with this ETF is the lack of diversification. Although there are 124 holdings, they are all companies within the same industry. As CURE is an industry-specific ETF, you should think twice about making it a large holding in your portfolio.

The biotech industry also comes with its own set of risks. Most of the companies are heavily research focused, and the fact sheet for this ETF points out that many biotech companies make little or no sales/revenue.

The success of the company can often depend on one breakthrough or regulatory approval, making it a speculative industry.

The current weighted average price-earnings (PE) ratio of the CURE ETF is 29.6 times, while the S&P 500 PE ratio sits around 21 times. This reflects the low earnings and comparatively high prices of these biotech companies.

Summary

The CURE ETF could be an attractive option for growth, but I’d avoid allocating a large percentage of my portfolio due to the concentration in one industry and the speculative nature of biotechnology companies.

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Disclaimer: Any information contained in this article is limited to general financial/investment advice only. The information has not taken into account your specific needs, goals or objectives, so please consider consulting a licenced and trusted adviser before acting on the information. Please read The Rask Group’s Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information. This article is authorised by Owen Raszkiewicz of The Rask Group, which is a corporate authorised representative No. 1264179 of Strawman Pty Ltd (ACN: 610 908 211) (AFSL: 501 223).

Disclosure: At the time of writing, Max does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.