SPA ETF to Close All 6 of its Funds

Another one bites the dust.

SPA ETFs announced late Monday that it plans to close all six of its SPA MarketGrader ETFs. Their last day of trading on the NYSE Arca will be March 25 and they will be liquidated March 30. The six funds trade separately in the U.S., United Kingdom and Italy.

The six funds affected:
SPA MarketGrader 40 Fund (SFV)
SPA MarketGrader 100 Fund (SIH)
SPA MarketGrader 200 Fund (SNB)
SPA MarketGrader Small Cap 100 Fund (SSK)
SPA MarketGrader Mid Cap 100 Fund (SVD)
SPA MarketGrader Large Cap 100 Fund (SZG)

The funds’ board of trustees has been in consultations with SPA ETFs, the investment advisor to the funds, for the past few weeks, to discuss the future of the ETFs. Two weeks ago, the board came close to deciding to shut down the funds, but chose instead to seek further information, according to sources. While it’s unknown what new data forced this decision, SPA said in a written statement that the “board determined current market conditions are unsuitable for a long-only equity investment strategy, such as the one employed by the SPA MarketGrader ETFs.” They decided closing the funds would be in the best interest of the shareholders.

As of Friday, the six U.S. funds assets totaling $10.4 million, while the European funds held $7.5 million, reported IndexUniverse.

“In light of the current market environment keeping the SPA MarketGrader Funds open would compromise investors and increase costs,” said Daniel Freedman, managing director of SPA ETFs, in a written statement. However, the company plans to stay in the ETF market. “The SPA ETF Trust remains open and we plan to partner with other institutions to bring new ETFs to market in Europe and the U.S. in 2009. Additionally, when market conditions improve we may reintroduce the MarketGrader strategy.”

SPA is a sister company to 22-year-old British money manager London & Capital. The U.S. funds launched in October 2007, a month after the British funds, and made SPA the first foreign company to launch ETFs in the U.S. Barclays Global Investors, a unit of Barclays, a British bank, is headquartered in San Francisco. The SPA funds are based on indexes from MarketGrader which uses 24 fundamental factors to grade every stock in the U.S. market and pulls the ones that score best in four key areas — growth, value, profitability and cash flow. While the index uses fundamental criteria to pick stocks, the indexes are not fundamentally weighted, like the ETFs from WisdomTree and PowerShares’ FTSE RAFI series.

Ironically, from their inception until June 2008, the MarketGrader funds consistently outperformed the S&P 500 and often beat comparable funds from WisdomTree and PowerShares.

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