Bricks over bytes: New hard asset ETF places big bet on real estate

Real estate & resources: a hard look at hard asset funds

A new ETF is making a big bet on real estate and other hard assets.

CBRE’s Investment Management launched the IQ CBRE Real Assets ETF in May with the idea that it will deliver inflation protection in a rising interest rate environment.

“The ETF market is lacking options in this space,” the ETF’s portfolio manager, Dan Foley, told CNBC’s “ETF Edge” on Thursday. “There’s a lot of opportunity here with secular changes in things like digital transformation, decarbonization, and then, just frankly, mispricing in the market.”

Foley pointed out that global financial institutions are already in the space and said he believes retail investors should be, too.

“This has been one of the most attractively positioned segments of the real asset universe,” Foley said. “Valuations are very compelling. … [The] elements are in place for a pretty strong total return going forward.”

CBRE’s new ETF is hitting the marketplace as excitement around artificial intelligence companies and technology dominate Wall Street.

Foley contended that hard assets, in general, are an important diversifier away from technology — particularly hot AI stocks. Plus, he noted that hard assets are crucial in enabling a digital economy in the first place.

“Data centers, cell towers, enabling decarbonization — you need these leading infrastructure companies to make that investment. It’s driving growth that we think will drive a differentiated outcome,” he said.

According to issuer New York Life Investments, the fund’s top holdings are in real estate and utilities. They include Public Storage, Crown Castle, Nextera Energy and Equinix (EQIX), which is considered a leader in data centers.

Equinix shares are up 7% over the past month.

“Equinix is a great example of a world-leading entity,” said Foley. “That’s the kind of asset you want. These are essential to the new economy.”

Since the IQ CBRE Real Assets ETF launched May 10, it’s down almost 6%.