Biotech buy: Summit company’s new exchange-traded fund GERM is taking off

Sam Masucci has brought a lot of innovative, thematic exchange-traded funds to market at Summit-based ETFMG, everything from those based on cannabis, video games, cloud computing and cybersecurity.

Sam Masucci, founder and CEO of ETFMG.

He feels his latest, which is focused on vaccines and biotech, may top them all.

GERM, which launched June 17 with $2 million of seed capital, has grown to $10.5 million after five days of trading. The volume of trading also has been high, at 719,471 since inception.

“I have brought 28 ETFs to market in my career, and this is the second-fastest growing ETF we have ever launched,” Masucci said. “GERM has seen phenomenal investor interest, trade volume and organic asset growth, immediately upon launching.”

Masucci, the founder and CEO of ETFMG, said he feels GERM represents an investment theme that is much more than topical.

“It provides unique exposure to a previously underrepresented growth sector within biotech,” he said.

GERM holds 56 biotech companies. It is believed to be the first ETF of its kind for infectious diseases. Its Top 10 holdings:

  • Alnylam Pharmaceuticals;
  • Moderna;
  • BIO RAD Labs;
  • Novavax;
  • Quest Diagnostics;
  • Lab Cor Amer Holdings;
  • Quidel;
  • Biontech;
  • Adaptive Biotechnologies;
  • Zai Lab.

Masucci said GERM seeks to answer investor demand for direct exposure to the biotech companies directly engaged in the testing and treatments of infectious diseases. He said the first-to-market methodology behind the fund focuses on the advancements in the infectious disease subsector of biotech, with targeted exposure to international, but U.S.-listed companies at the forefront of research & development, vaccines, therapies and testing technologies.

“GERM provides access to both established providers as well as the unsung heroes of the biotech and life sciences market,” Masucci said.

Masucci said it’s also bringing this access to a new investor type: millennials.

The financial app, Robinhood, which is especially popular among millennials, already has seen more than 3,500 accounts investing in GERM.

“Millennials invest in what they know, and realize the impact that COVID-19 has on the biotech space and the potential for growth,” Masucci said.

File photo
Dr. Reynold Panettieri Jr. of Rutgers University.

Dr. Reynold Panettieri Jr., vice chancellor for translational medicine and science at Rutgers University, and director of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Science, is the medical treatments expert with ETFMG. He said he understands the value of the companies in the fund.

“Our global health depends a great deal on innovation and discovery that will address how to prevent further infection with enhanced immune therapies or vaccines,” he said. “GERM offers a unique approach that embraces cutting-edge technologies among Big/Small Pharma and biotech that can nimbly leverage discoveries and translate them into commercialized and impactful assets.”

ETF Managers Group, the New Jersey-based firm, employs 27 people in its Summit headquarters. Masucci, a Morristown native, founded ETFMG in 2014 because he identified the investor demand for direct access to “pure play” and emerging thematic funds, which means a fund is focused on one market sector.

Some of the previous ETFs were focused on video game technology (GAMR), cannabis (MJ) and cloud computing (IVES).

Masucci said the ETF wrapper gives investors one-stop-shop type of exposure to global securities, tax efficiencies and helps them in avoiding single stock risk. Under Masucci’s leadership, ETFMG has doubled its employee count each year for the past four years and now has $3.6 billion in total assets under management.