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Top MLP ETFs: Analyzing Fund Flows in 1Q18

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Apr. 4 2018, Published 8:18 a.m. ET

Negative flow in 1Q18

The top five MLP ETFs recorded a net outflow of $285 million in 1Q18. A net outflow of $558 million from the Alerian MLP ETF (AMLP) more than offset the combined inflows of $273 million into the First Trust North American Energy Infrastructure Fund (EMLP), the Global X MLP ETF (MLPA), the Infracap MLP ETF (AMZA), and the Global X MLP & Energy Infrastructure ETF (MLPX).

The above graph shows the quarterly trends in the fund flows into the top MLP ETFs by assets under management. Even though EMLP, MLPA, AMZA, and MLPX recorded positive flows in 1Q18, the inflow fell compared to 1Q17.

The total fund flows in 2017 in the five ETFs were the highest in five years. The inflows into AMLP, the largest MLP ETF by assets under management, were ~$2 billion in 2017—up from $1.8 billion in 2016.

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Top holdings

Enterprise Products Partners (EPD), Magellan Midstream Partners (MMP), and Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) are AMLP’s top three holdings. Together, they form ~30% of AMLP.

While AMLP only invests in infrastructure MLPs, EMLP invests in MLPs, pipeline companies, utilities, and other energy infrastructure companies. MLPA invests at least 80% of its assets in MLPs. AMZA mainly invests in MLPs.

Energy Transfer Partners, MPLX (MPLX), and Williams Partners (WPZ) are AMZA’s top three holdings. They account for 19.7%, 12.3%, and 9.3%, respectively, of AMZA’s current portfolio.

Next, we’ll discuss how the top MLP funds have performed in 2018.

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