Category Archives: ProShares

WisdomTree Wins ETF of Year at ETF.com Awards As ProShares Walks Away With 4 Statues

It’s award time again.

Much like Spring follows Winter, although reports of more snow this weekend are leading some to question that, the ETF industry starts its period of self-congratulations on the heels of the Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globes.

ETF.com, the self-proclaimed world’s leading authority on exchange-traded funds, started the season off with their second annual awards banquet.

“Our awards try to recognize the products that make a difference to investors,” said Matt Hougan, president of ETF.com. “The ones finding new areas to put money to work.” The awards are determined by a panel of experts chosen by ETF.com.

Held at The Lighthouse restaurant at New York’s Chelsea Piers March 19, ETF.com wins the prize for best party location. With picture windows overlooking the Hudson River, guests of the cocktail hour took in the sunset over New Jersey before the ceremony started.

The WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity (HEDJ) was the big winner, grabbing the prize for ETF of the Year, while the Market Vectors ChinaAMC China Bond (CBON) won Best New ETF. Not quite sure what the difference is between those two awards, but obviously both funds stand out from the crowd of 117 ETFs issued in 2014.

However, ProShares swept the evening, as the single provider that won the most awards. The twin funds ProShares CDS North American HY Credit (TYTE) and CDS Short North American HY Credit (WYDE) claimed the awards for both Most Innovative New ETF and Best New Fixed-Income ETF.

“We designed these ETFs for investors who want high yield credit exposure that is isolated from interest rate risk,” said Steve Cohen, ProShares managing director.

The fund was also nominated for Best Ticker of the Year with its homophones for “tight” and “wide”. However, the awards announcer had a chuckle by claiming they really were pronounced “tighty whitey”, a reference to his jockey shorts. Best Ticker was awarded to HACK, the PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF.

ProShares also won Best New Alternative ETF for the ProShares Morningstar Alternative Solution (ALTS) and Most Innovative ETF Issuer of the Year.

“We are always striving to deliver new and innovative products to allow investors to build better portfolios,” said ProShares Chief Executive Michael Sapir.

Lee Kranefuss, the man who created the iShares brand of ETFs and built them into the largest ETF issuer in the world won the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award.

In the only speech of the night — thank goodness — Kranefuss said, “ETFs allow people to take control.” He likened ETFs to iTunes, saying “no longer are you limited to what the record company puts out.” He said he’s often been asked if he thought the ETF industry would take off like it has in the 15 years since iShares launched.

“Not really,” said Kranefuss, “we just put out the best products we could put out.”

The other award winners:

Best New U.S. Equity ETF – iShares Core Dividend Growth (DGRO)
Best New International/Global Equity ETF – Deutsche X-trackers Harvest MSCI All China Equity (CN)
Best New Commodity ETF – AdvisorShares Gartman Gold/Euro (GEUR) and AdvisorShares Gartman Gold/Yen (GYEN).
Best New Asset Allocation ETF – Global X /JPMorgan Efficiente (EFFE)
ETF Issuer of the Year – First Trust
New ETF Issuer of the Year – Reality Shares
Index Provider of the Year – MSCI
Index of the Year – Bloomberg Dollar Index
Best Online Broker for ETF-Focused Investors – TD Ameritrade
Best ETF Offering for RIAs – Charles Schwab
Best ETF Issuer Website – BlackRock

Biotech ETFs Bounce Back After Three-Month Correction

Biotechnology exchange traded funds surged this week on news that drug giant Merck agreed to buy Idenix Pharmaceuticals for $3.85 billion, leading investors to believe the biotech sector has bottomed out after three months of misery.

On Monday, the big pharma drugmaker offered the tiny biotech $24.50 a share, a 239% premium to its closing price Friday, in order to acquire Idenix’s portfolio of three early-state hepatitis C drugs.

The news sparked a rally in the biotech sector and biotech ETFs. PowerShares Dynamic Biotechnology & Genome Portfolio ETF (PBE) jumped 8.4% Monday, to advance 11% for the week ending June 10. It now has about 9% of its assets in Idenix.

SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (ARCA:XBI), now with 4% in Idenix, leapt 6.8% Monday, for a 14.6% gain over the past five days. Overall, biotech sector ETFs rose an average of 5% over the past week.

Big 2013 Move, Then Pullback

Last year, the biotech sector was one of the best areas of the market, posting a bigger return than the S&P 500. But since February, the sector has undergone a significant retrenchment. First, it started out as a flight from risk in a sector many said was in bubble territory.

The timing was prescient. Over the next three months, a string of biotechs suddenly imploded. In early March, Geron, a biotech with no products, plunged 62% after U.S. regulators halted the trial of its only experimental drug.

In April, Cytokinetics’ shares lost more than 60% after its experimental treatment for Lou Gehrig’s disease failed to work better than a placebo in a clinical trial.

Then the first week of May saw three biotechs all report failures with their leading drug candidates.

“These unexpected blowups and the overall flight from risk hurt the small-cap biotech sector with valuations under $1 billion,” said Ron Garren, an oncologist and editor of BioTechInsight.com, an online biotech stock newsletter in Carmel, Calif.

“They got decimated and some lost more than half their value. Of course, some were overvalued to begin with.”

From late February to May 8, iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ:IBB), which tracks all the biotechs on the Nasdaq, and PBE each tumbled 18%. XBI sank 29%.

Over the past month, XBI climbed 21% for a year-to-date return of 15%. PBE is up 14% for an 18% gain this year. IBB, the biggest biotech ETF with $5.2 billion in assets, advanced 10% the last 30 days for a 10% return year-to-date.

ProShares Ultra Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF
(NASDAQ:BIB) is a leveraged fund that seeks to post a daily return twice the results of the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index.

It fell 35% during the biotech correction, but gained 21% over the past month. Year to date, BIB is up 16%, but its return over the past 12 months is 82% compared with the 32% return for the average biotech ETF.

Opportunity Seen

“As the yields on dividend stocks begin to dry up, risk stocks look more attractive, and after the biotech beat down, I think these stocks are a great opportunity,” said Garren.

“There has been an incredible amount of work in immunotherapies and cancer. Also, there are big opportunities involved in fatal diseases that need therapies.”

Europe’s Financial Crisis Sends U.S. Stocks Lower

Fears over the state of European banks after the European Central Bank lent dollars to a eurozone bank sent European markets plunging and have started a huge sell-off in the U.S. One bidder borrowed $500 million from the ECB and the news suggests at least one bank is having problems getting the cash it needs, according to Financial Times and CNBC.

At Thursday’s close, the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) tumbled 4.3% to $114.51.
The SPDR Financial Select Sector Fund (XLF) sunk 4.8% to $12.38.
The SPDR Technology Select Sector Fund (XLK) fell 4.9% to $23.08.
And finally, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) rose 1.9% to $177.72.

Last week regulators in Italy, Belgium, France and Spain banned short-selling of financial stocks in an effort to curb volatility and bring some order to markets. How is that working out for you? Meanwhile, it’s nearly impossible to get any numbers on the shorting of U.S. stocks or ETFs on short notice, I wouldn’t be surprised if investors were using U.S. ETFs to short the European financial stocks.

Meanwhile, here are 4 funds that measure global financial stocks.
iShares MSCI Europe Financials Sector Index Fund (EUFN), of which banks make up 52% of the portfolio, plummeted 8% to $16.68.
iShares S&P Global Financials Sector Index Fund (IXG) plunged 5.2% to $36.99.
SPDR EURO STOXX 50 (FEZ) dived 5.5% to $31.06.
iShares MSCI United Kingdom Index Fund (EWU) skidded 4.6% to $15.71.

Finally, the ProShare UltraShort MSCI EAFE Fund surged 9.7% to $28.75. With a ticker of (EFU), this is probably the most appropriate sentiment of the day.

ETF Lets Investors Short High-Yield Bonds

ProShares today launched the first ETF that provides inverse exposure to the high-yield bond market. The ProShares Short High Yield (SJB) seeks to provide 100% the opposite daily performance of the Markit iBoxx $ Liquid High-Yield Index, before expenses. The ETF lists on NYSE Arca and charges an expense ratio of 0.95%.

Today’s volume was a measly 7,700 shares and the fund ended flat at its launch price of $40.

“High-yield bonds have had a strong rebound since the financial crisis, with indexes reaching all-time highs and high-yield funds attracting significant inflows over the past two years,” said Michael L. Sapir, chairman and CEO of ProShares Advisors in a written statement. “For investors who believe that high yield bonds are ripe for a pullback, SJB can be used to help hedge against or to seek to benefit from potential declines.”

The iBoxx $ Liquid High Yield Index has gained 12.6% over the past year, and 7.4% over the past three years on an annualized basis. It currently yields about 8%. To get the positive returns on this index check out the iShares iBoxx $ Liquid High Yield Corporate Bond Fund (HYG).

Inverse ETFs are not buy-and-hold instruments. As always, inverse funds only guarantee the inverse performance on a daily basis. That means if the market falls 10% over a three-month period, but experiences a lot of volatility during that time, you won’t necessarily receive a 10% return. For instance, ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury ETF (TBT) seeks to return twice the inverse daily performance, or 200%, of the Barclays Capital 20+ Year U.S. Treasury Index. In 2010, the index rose 9.38%, which means the ETF should have seen a return of negative 18.76%. However, because of volatility, the fund’s actual return was negative 26.32%.

This is ProShares’ fifth inverse bond ETFs. ProShares’ other four inverse bond ETFs are benchmarked to Treasury bonds. These include:

  • UltraShort 20+
  • UltraShort 7-10 Year Treasury (PST)
  • UltraShort TIPS (TPS)
  • Short 20+ Year Treasury (TBF)

These four ETFs have garnered more than $7 billion of assets since launching less than three years ago.

9 ETFs Make Up 18% of Total U.S. Volume

Abel/Noser, an agency-only broker, released a market liquidity study for July saying ETFs dominated trading on the U.S. stock markets, with nine ETFs representing 18% of the total daily domestic volume, reports StreetInsider.com.

Those nine ETFs were: the SPDR (SPY), iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM), PowerShares QQQ (QQQQ), iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM), SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), UltraShort S&P500 ProShares (SDS), iShares MSCI EAFE Index (EFA), Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) and Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X Shares (FAS).

According to the July ETF Report released by the National Stock Exchange today, the top five ETF providers in terms of volume, in descending order, are State Street Global Advisors, BlackRock, ProShares, Direxion and Invesco/PowerShares. Together, their share volume for the month of July was 27.6 billion shares, or 54% of the NYSE Group Volume in all stocks traded, 50.6 billion shares. This number doesn’t include Nasdaq volume.

In addition, Abel/Noser said six stocks accounted for more than 10% of the domestic principal traded. The six stocks: Apple, Bank of America, Citigroup, Microsoft, Exxon Mobil and Intel.

The top 105 stocks represented more than half of the day’s volume, says the study, while the top 975 names accounted for 90% of all the volume. The renaming 17,399 securities accounted for just 10% of the daily volume on the market. These numbers were little changed from June.

Select Sector SPDRs Sue Over Shadow Symbols

The Select Sector SPDR Trust sued INVESCO PowerShares Capital Management over ticker symbols. Filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Houston, the suit charges PowerShares with trademark infringement and misappropriation.

Select Sector SPDRs offers a family of ETFs that divides the S&P 500 into nine individual sector funds. In April, PowerShares launched a family of nine sector ETFS for the small-cap market based on the S&P 600, a small-cap index. (Blog Postings: Small-Cap Investors Get Sector Funds and Sector ETFs Help You Avoid Single-Stock Risk)

The PowerShares funds, which trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market, use four-letter ticker symbols that add an “S” to the end of the ticker for the Select Sector SPDR funds covering the same industry. Those trade on the NYSE Arca.

“This is a deliberate and unconscionable act on the part of PowerShares to confuse both institutional and retail investors,” said Dan Dolan, director of wealth management strategies for the Select Sector SPDR Trust in a written statement. “PowerShares has succeeded in casting an unfortunate shadow on Wall Street’s efforts to eliminate financial opacity.”

Dolan noted that 101 out of 102 ETFs previously launched by PowerShares have tickers that start with “P.” The sector funds in question are the only products in PowerShares ETF family that begin with an “X.”

Below is a list of the funds side-by-side:

Sector SPDR Consumer Discretionary (XLY)
PowerShares S&P SmallCap Consumer Discretionary Portfolio (XLYS)

Sector SPDR Consumer Staples (XLP)
PowerShares S&P SmallCap Consumer Staples Portfolio (XLPS)

Sector SPDR Energy (XLE)
PowerShares S&P SmallCap Energy Portfolio (XLES)

Sector SPDR Financials (XLF)
PowerShares S&P SmallCap Financials Portfolio (XLFS)

Sector SPDR Health Care (XLV)
PowerShares S&P SmallCap Health Care Portfolio (XLVS)

Sector SPDR Industrials (XLI)
PowerShares S&P SmallCap Industrials Portfolio (XLIS)

Sector SPDR Materials (XLB)
PowerShares S&P SmallCap Materials Portfolio (XLBS)

Sector SPDR Technology (XLK)
PowerShares S&P SmallCap Information Technology Portfolio (XLKS)

Sector SPDR Utilities (XLU)
PowerShares S&P SmallCap Utilities Portfolio (XLUS)

Calling the PowerShares symbols “astoundingly similar,” Dolan told the Wall Street Journal: “I don’t think there’s any other way of looking at it than they’re trying to jump on our back.”

He’s right, of course. If PowerShares planned to latch onto this already understood product, it was a brilliant marketing strategy. The Select Sector SPDRs are probably the most recognizable ETFs in the world. Their marketing campaign of spiders making webs in the shapes of industry icons, such as an oil rig for its energy ETF or a stethoscope for the health care ETF, has been a huge success, both in explaining that ETFs are financial products and what a select sector is. Traders, large and small, call stocks by their tickers not their company names. So, if you wanted the small-cap fund for energy, instead of XLE, you would simply remember the “S” for small.

The question becomes who owns a ticker symbol and can you trademark the first two or three letters of a ticker symbol? Currently, the Intermarket Symbols Reservation Authority, run by the Options Clearing Corp., or OCC, assigns ticker symbols to companies and ETFs. “The ISRA operates a uniform, transparent system for the selection, reservation, assignment and transfer of securities trading symbols by NMS Plan participants.”

Since there are only so many possibilities for three- and four-letter combinations, aren’t there always going to be tickers similar to yours? For instance, most people assume INTL is the ticker for Intel, but it’s not; it’s INTC. Surprisingly, among the many media outlets that reported this story, no one seems to have called the OCC for its opinion.

I did, but the OCC hasn’t gotten back to me.

Meanwhile, I would say the amount of market confusion is minimal. The Journal says the nine Select Sector SPDRS have $31 billion in assets under management. Meanwhile, the nine PowerShares funds in question hold only $50 million. Most hold less than $6 million, and have an average daily trading volume of less than 10,000 shares a day. The Select Sector SPDRS see average daily volumes in the tens of millions.

5 Stocks to Consider Selling Now

With the return of market volatility, your first instinct may be to reach for the Alka-Seltzer. But if all those gyrations are making you queasy, consider this alternative to the fizzy stuff: Sell some stocks. This isn’t to suggest that you should try to time the market, just that the amount of stock you hold should be consistent with your tolerance for risk.

The process of figuring out what to sell is especially tricky if you own individual stocks. That’s because psychological factors are likely to interfere with your decision. You usually buy a stock because it’s cheap, or it has momentum, or the underlying company offers fantastic products or services (think Apple). You should probably sell if your rationale fails to materialize or the story changes. But you may have trouble unloading a winner because it’s been so good to you, no matter how expensive it has become. And you may have as much trouble letting go of a loser no matter how many problems it faces because doing so would confirm the stupidity of your initial purchase. Tax issues can also affect selling decisions.

With fear, uncertainty and doubt running high, this is an especially good time to cull the turkeys from your portfolio. Not only is volatility back, but the chances are high that many undeserving stocks have been swept up in the stunning bull market, during which Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has soared 77.6% from its March 2009 low. Share prices of companies with problems eventually will return to earth.

In today’s Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, I identify five fairly well-known stocks that I consider unattractive. None is on the list because of excessive valuation. Instead, I point out companies with fundamental problems that may not yet be reflected in their share prices. If you own any of these stocks, consider selling them. If you’re an aggressive investor, consider betting against them by selling short or buying put options.

For the full story and five stocks to sell go to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Sorry, no ETF news today. But if you want to short the entire stock market, take a look at ProShares Short S&P 500 (SH).