Analyse: iShares NASDAQ 100 UCITS ETF

Wer einen breit diversifizierten Zugang zu prominenten US-Technologie- und Konsumgüterunternehmen wie Apple, Microsoft oder Google sucht, ist mit diesem Aktien-ETF gut bedient.

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Rolle im Portfolio

The iShares NASDAQ 100 provides exposure to the largest non-financial equities listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market and as such, it can be used as a core portfolio holding. The NASDAQ 100 Index is commonly known as “the” US technology benchmark because of its high concentration of technology companies. The tech sector encompasses everything from computer hardware and software to telecommunications and represents almost two thirds of the index’s value. As such, this fund could appeal to investors looking to add a “tech” tilt to a well-diversified portfolio. However investors should be aware that from the perspective of individual names, this ETF is heavily biased towards Apple which accounts for 13% of its market capitalisation. 

This fund can also serve as a tactical tool for those looking to place a bet on the near-to-medium-term prospects of the US large cap equity market--excluding financials--and the US technology industry in particular, under the belief that they are undervalued.

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Fundamentale Analyse

The index that this ETF tracks is dominated by the technology sector; thus overall returns will be largely influenced by its performance.

The technology industry is witnessing a huge shift from personal computer to mobile devices and the growth in cloud computing. Sales of conventional PCs are expected to have dropped by 10% in 2013 to 321 million units, as demand shifts from PC usage to mobile devices. In addition, declining demand from developed markets is now accompanied by a drop in demand from emerging markets. However, growth in tablets and smartphones - the current key driver for the industry - will more than compensate for the decline in PC sales. Morningstar expects that more than 2.6bn total computer devices – including smartphones, tablets, and PCs – will be shipped by 2017; more than double the total number shipped in 2012.

The outlook for the US economy has improved to the point of getting closer to a full recovery from the financial crisis. The consensus forecast is for GDP to grow by at least 3% in 2014. It is also expected that the 8.7 million jobs lost during the crisis will be fully regained by H2 2014, as the economy has added 2.1 million jobs on average over the last three years. The unemployment rate has dropped to 6.7% from a record-high of 10% in October 2010. However, wage growth has not kept up pace with job creation. According to surveys, 40% of the population classify themselves as lower or lower-middle class. In theory, this could hamper consumer spending, as domestic demand accounts for roughly two thirds of GDP. However, it must be pointed that the consumer confidence index rose to 80.7 in January after averaging out at 73.3 in 2013, while retail sales were up 4.2% in 2013 – its third consecutive annual increase.

Despite the improved performance and more positive outlook – the latter underlined by the increase in the pace of Fed tapering – the US economy is not immune to trends in a world economy which is sending mixed signals. For example, the turmoil in emerging markets has weighed on US stock market valuations after a record-breaking 2013. On the other hand, however, many investors may have overlooked the positive PMI-data out of Europe, which is a bigger trading partner for the US.

Morningstar forecasts 2.0%-2.5% GDP growth for 2014 on expectations of a rough first quarter. In fact, the US PMI has dropped to 53.7 in January from 55.0 in December, as the government’s mini-stimulus of summer 2013 gradually phases out. As stated, many economists are a little more optimistic for 2014, citing less government drag, improved exports and more business spending as main drivers. However, Morningstar sees offsetting factors, such as auto and housing sales growth, which, for instance, are likely to be below 2013-levels.    

Improving economic data out of Europe should have a positive impact on the US economy. China, however, is less important as trading partner and a slowing growth should have limited impact on the US. In fact, Morningstar economists argue that a slowing Chinese economy could be beneficial for US consumers, as slowing demand for commodities in China could keep a lid on commodity prices and overall inflation in the US and other developed countries.

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The NASDAQ 100 Index provides equity exposure to the 100 largest non-financial securities listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market. It is a market capitalisation weighted index representing major industry groups, like computer hardware and software, telecommunications, retail/wholesale trade and biotechnology. The index is calculated under a modified capitalisation-weighted method with the intention to retain in general the economic attributes of capitalisation-weighting while providing enhanced diversification. In order to achieve its objective, the NASDAQ 100 Index is reviewed quarterly and adjusts the weightings of index constituents using a proprietary algorithm, if certain pre-established weight distribution requirements are not met. To be eligible for the index, component stocks must be listed on the Nasdaq Stock market and meet a list of criteria, like being a non-financial company, trading at least 200,000 shares a day and being listed on the stock market for at least two years. As of writing, the index is heavily biased towards the technology sector (57%), followed by consumer discretionary (21%) and health care (14%). The largest index constituent is Apple, representing 13% of the index’s value, followed by Microsoft (8%) and Google (8%). The index is therefore heavily top weighted as the top 10 holdings represent over 50% of the index.

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This ETF uses physical replication techniques to track the performance of the NASDAQ 100 Index. The fund holds all the constituents of the index. iShares may engage in securities lending within this fund to generate additional revenues for the fund. The lending revenues generated from this activity are split 60/40 between the fund and the lending agent BlackRock, whereby BlackRock covers the costs involved. To protect the fund from a borrower’s default, BlackRock takes collateral greater than the loan value. Collateral levels vary from 102.5% to 112% of the value of securities on loan, depending on the assets provided by the borrower as collateral. Additional counterparty risk mitigation measures include borrower default indemnification. Specifically, BlackRock commits to replace the securities that a borrower would fail to return. The indemnification arrangement is subject to changes, and in some cases without notice. Finally, BackRock limits the amount of assets that can be lent out by this ETF at 50%.Cash received as dividends from the underlying stocks is held in the fund’s income account until it is distributed to fund holders. Distributions are made on a quarterly basis. This dividend treatment can potentially create a drag on returns in upward trending markets as dividends are not reinvested into the fund. In practice this cuts both ways. It could also result in outperformance if the benchmark falls in the interim period.

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This fund levies a total expense ratio (TER) of 0.33%, which is at the most expensive ETF tracking the NASDAQ 100. Other potential costs associated with holding this fund which are not included in the TER include rebalancing costs, bid-ask spreads and brokerage fees.

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There is no scarcity of alternatives to this fund. Amundi, ComStage, iShares, Lyxor and PowerShares all provide ETFs tracking the NASDAQ 100 at lower TERs ranging from 0.23% to 0.30%. The largest fund in terms of assets under management is the PowerShares EQQQ ETF, which charges a TER of 0.30%.

Investors looking for a more diversified index providing exposure to US equities could consider using the iShares S&P 500 Index ETF to express their view. The S&P 500 Index’s largest sector exposure is financials (17%), followed by IT (16%) and consumer services (13%). The biggest single issuer exposure is Apple (3%), followed by Exxon Mobil (3%).

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Über den Autor

Gordon Rose, CIIA, CAIA,

Gordon Rose, CIIA, CAIA,  war von 2011 bis 2014 Fondsanalyst bei Morningstar.