During the first half of 2020, 13 thematic First Trust ETFs outperformed the S&P 500 index, which posted a total return of -3.1%. Ten of these ETFs had positive year-to-date returns (see chart 1). Many of these outperformers operate in industries less impacted—if not bolstered—by the COVID-19 pandemic and aggressive government response. For example, Internet (FDN and FDNI), Cloud Computing (SKYY), Biotechnology (FBT), and Cybersecurity (CIBR) have all been beneficiaries of the pandemic as their products and services have become integral in coping with the virus as well as helping companies and their employees remain productive while sheltering in place at home.
On the other hand, 15 thematic First Trust ETFs underperformed the S&P 500 during the first half of 2020. Many of the worst performing ETFs were focused on economically sensitive areas, such as Banks (FTXO and QABA), Energy (FCG and FTXN), and Transportation (FTXR).