4 Best Performing Active ETFs

An image of a stock price rising in value
Credit: Shutterstock photo

By Drew Voros Editor-in-Chief

Here’s a quick look at the best-performing active ETFs in the past one year, each with gains exceeding 40%. For reference, consider that the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) shelled out some 23% in gains in the same period.

InfraCap MLP ETF (AMZA) – up 68% in the past 12 months

AMZA invests in midstream MLPs—the master limited partnerships that collect, process, store and transport energy. The fund is an actively managed ETF in a segment populated primarily by passive strategies. And by design, it seeks to generate returns through capital appreciation, current income and growth in income, according to the fund’s manager, Infrastructure Capital Advisors.

The portfolio is not market-cap-weighted like most MLP ETF strategies. Instead, securities are weighted based on estimated total return and company fundamentals. Its top two holdings combined, Energy Transfer Partners and Williams Partners, represent almost 30% of the basket.

AMZA has an expense ratio of 1.11%, or $111 per $10,000 invested, and $200 million in AUM. Distribution yield on this fund was last reported at 19.04%.

First Trust North American Energy Infrastructure Fund (EMLP) – up 43% in the past 12 months

EMLP is among the largest MLP ETFs in the market, with $1.5 billion in assets. And it’s a direct competitor to AMZA—the year’s best-performing active ETF. But unlike most other MLP strategies, EMLP is structured as a 1940 Act Fund, meaning it is restricted on the amount of MLP exposure it can offer.

It’s not a pure-play in the MLP space, but it’s clearly one that’s performing very well. The fund’s biggest sector allocation is to pipelines at 52%, followed by electric power at 37%, according to First Trust. EMLP carries an expense ratio of 0.95% and has a 30-day yield of about 3%.

AdvisorShares Athena High Dividend ETF (DIVI) – up 42% in the past 12 months

DIVI is a high-dividend ETF that picks its global holdings through behavioral models. Essentially, the fund looks at the holdings of active equity fund managers, then applies a behavioral model to rank stocks on measures such as conviction and consistency, and screens for the highest dividends, according to AdvisorShares.

DIVI also screens for diversification in an effort to manage risk, and is dividend-weighted. That mix is very different than, say, the portfolio of the biggest global high-yield ETF in the market, the Global X Superdividend ETF (SDIV). SDIV is equal-weighted and tilts heavily toward financials—more than half the portfolio. These differences account for the 10-percentage-point difference between the two funds in the past year. SDIV has $827 million in AUM. DIVI, however, remains small, with only $8 million in total assets. DIVI has a hefty price tag relative to other dividend strategies. It has a 0.99% expense ratio and trades with an average spread of 0.52%,

ARK Industrial Innovation ETF (ARKQ) – up 41.2% in the past 12 months

ARKQ is a global technology fund that focuses exclusively on companies the portfolio manager believes will benefit from new technologies and automation. ARKQ is not a broad tech portfolio. The segments found in this mix include 3D printing at 32% weighting; robotics at 27%; and autonomous vehicles at 27%, according to ARK Invest. The fund’s top holding is Tesla.

Launched in September 2014, the fund has $18 million in assets. It carries an expense ratio of 0.75%, and trades with an average spread of 0.19%.

Drew Voros can be reached at

More On

Top ETF Picks Now That Trump Is President

The Bionic Advisor Rises

ETF Investors Skeptical Of Gold Despite Rally

Finalists Announced For 2016 Awards

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

In This Story


Other Topics

ETFs Economy

Founded in 2001, is the world's leading authority on exchange-traded funds (ETFs). We deliver clear, independent and authoritative news, analysis and education about ETFs online at and in print with ETF Report.

Learn More