Have you heard of these 4 weird ETFs?

The ETF industry is about more than just tracking a market index -- creative minds are coming up with innovative packages for focused investors, like these four weird funds.

By Bryan Borzykowski

Have you heard of these 4 weird ETFs?
Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, were created as an easy way for busy investors to grow their money hassle-free. All you have to do is buy a fund that tracks an index, like the S&P/TSX Composite, and leave it alone; your gains (and losses) always match market returns.

But over the years, people have created ETFs to track all sorts of things beyond basic stock indexes. Now you can buy a fund that invests in pretty much anything you can think of. While it's still recommended that you stick with the basic offerings for the bulk of your portfolio, here are a few of the more unusual options for investors with a little bit of spending money.

1. Global X Social Media Index ETF (NASDAQ: SOCL)
Obsessed with social media? Then check out this ETF, which was launched last year. While it doesn't hold Twitter or Facebook -- those companies aren't yet listed on a stock exchange -- you can get access to stocks including Groupon and Google. This ETF's biggest holding is in Tencent Holdings Inc., a diversified Internet, mobile and multimedia company based out of China.

2. Global X Fishing Industry ETF (NYSE Arca: FISN)
Fishing enthusiasts may love catching the “big one” every summer, and now they can catch the big return, too. This ETF tracks companies in the fishing industry. About 40 per cent of its holdings are in Japan, but it also has exposure to companies in Norway, Chile and South Korea. Its largest holding is Tokyo-based Toyo Suisan Kaisha, a exporter and distributor of marine products.

3. Market Vectors Gaming ETF (NYSE Arca: BJK)
Gambling is big business, and not just for casinos in Las Vegas. Investors can get in on the gaming action by investing in this ETF, which follows global gaming companies. Naturally, some of its biggest holdings are Sin City-related, such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. -- the company that owns well-known hotels the Venetian and the Palazzo -- and Wynn Resorts. Unlike with slots, this fund actually guarantees some income -- it pays a 2.92 per cent dividend yield.

4. iPath Dow Jones-UBS Livestock Subindex Total Return (NYSE Arca: COW)
As its ticker name suggests, this ETF invests in meat. Rather than buying livestock-related companies, it holds two commodities: Live cattle (62.99 per cent of its holdings) and lean hogs (37.01 per cent). There's nothing more to it than that. If having a tasty burger for dinner isn't enough to satisfy your carnivorous cravings, then this ETF may be the one for you.

As you can see, there's a reason why some people think the ETF industry is getting carried away. On the other hand, if there weren't demand for innovative products, these companies wouldn't make them. Before you jump into this type of fund, though, make sure you know what you're getting into. Funds with a narrow focus can be risky, so know each industry well and make sure you're using money you won't need for retirement.

Page 1 of 1

All rights reserved. Transcontinental Media G.P. © 2014