Experts hesitate on weight loss ETFs amid the obesity drug boom


There may be a stronger case to invest in single stocks over exchange-traded funds in the weight loss space.

Amplify ETFs and Roundhill Investments each filed a prospectus last week to launch funds focused on weight loss companies, a move that Strategas ETF and technical strategist Todd Sohn believes hinges on the performance of two dominant stocks: Novo Nordisk (NVO) and Eli Lilly (LLY).

“The main holdings are going to be Lilly and Novo Nordisk, and probably one or two other big names … along with some of the manufacturers down the supply chain,” he told CNBC’s “ETF Edge” this week. “Ultimately, it’s up to those big behemoths that are playing those drugs.”

With just two players currently at the forefront of the U.S. obesity drug market, ProShares’ Simeon Hyman questions the relevance of weight loss ETFs for investors looking to buy into the industry.

“I think that’s one of the challenges whenever you see an innovation like this,” the firm’s global investment strategist said in the same interview. “If the benefits are going to incumbents, then maybe there isn’t a theme per se that needs to be exploited.”

Strategas’ Sohn also suggested that ETFs based on themes, rather than sectors or indices, might be falling out of favor with investors.

“I think thematics are a little bit on the backburner right now, especially the way they performed the last couple of years. I think there’s room for them, but more than one, it’s gonna be tough,” he said.

So far in 2024, Novo Nordisk has gained 29% and Eli Lilly is up 30%, as of Wednesday’s close. The broader Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV) is 7% higher during the same period.

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