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ETF Awards: Best, Worst and What to Watch in 2014

By Eric Balchunas - 2013-12-19T16:50:25Z

Photograph by New York Stock Exchange/AP Photo

Company Symbol % Change
11 of 17

Rising-Star Award

Global X Social Media ETF (SOCL)  +56%
iShares Frontier Markets ETF (FM)  +21%

Both of these ETFs were tiny a year ago, and considered gimmicky and dangerous. Whether they’re gimmicks or not, they’ve each seen assets grow tenfold in the past year. Stakes in Twitter and Facebook as well as non-U.S. social media stocks have helped power SOCL to a 56 percent gain, compared with 22 percent for the tech elder statesman, the SPDR Tech Sector ETF (XLE). SOCL will get another jolt next year when the giant Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba goes public. 

The iShares Frontier Markets ETF returned 21 percent, while its big brother, the iShares Emerging Markets ETF (EEM), had a -5.9 percent return. In 2014, FM will lose its stakes in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, as those countries take on emerging-market status. That will actually improve FM’s Middle East-heavy regional diversification.