Tag Archives: WisdomTree

Book Review of ETFs for The Long Run

Research Magazine just came out with a supplement called the Guide to ETF Investing 2009. Some great articles in there.

On page 8 of the guide is a review of my book ETFs for the Long Run. The link goes to a PDF file. The article was written by Ron DeLegge, the editor of ETFGuide.com, a great resource for ETF information. I am reprinting it here because I can’t link directly to the article.

Long-Term Thinking

Mutual funds may have enjoyed a 65-year head start, but the interest in ETF investing by individual investors and financial professionals is blossoming. Naturally, the rise of ETFs has led to a proliferation of subject material related to this still emerging investment vehicle. ETFs for the Long Run tackles this growing investment universe in a fun, readable and easy-to-comprehend manner.

The first few chapters take readers through a brief review of how ETFs came about. Nathan Most, a product developer for the Amex was instrumental in helping to launch the U.S. ETF marketplace. Most asked his development team, “Why can’t we create a warehouse receipt which would be backed by the underlying stock in the index but trade like a share of stock itself?” His question would later be answered with product prototypes that would eventually lead to the first U.S.-listed ETF in 1993, the Standard & Poor’s Depository Receipt (SPY).

Author Lawrence Carrel writes about ETFs as being a “better mousetrap.” He argues that mutual funds are inefficient from a cost standpoint: “Funds charge their shareholders for everything that goes on inside the fund, such as transaction fees, distribution charges, and transfer-agent costs.” On top of these costs, Carrel explains that there are additional charges that erode performance such as capital gain distributions. These often have the ugly habit of surprising mutual fund investors.

Timing Trouble

Remember the mutual fund timing scandal from 2003? Carrel suggests the 2003 scandal actually helped to fuel the popularity of ETFs. As you may recall, mutual funds were accused of breaking their own rules by allowing a select group of privileged investors to late-trade and market-time within their funds. On one hand, fund companies were telling investors to be long-term investors. On the other hand, these same companies were allowing hedge funds to make quick short-term profits at the expense of long-term investors. In contrast, ETFs avoided becoming tainted by the scandal because ETF investors are unaffected by the trading activity of their fellow shareholders.

ETFs for the Long Run explains the importance of building an ETF portfolio that accomplishes a logical financial mission. Carrel cites the classic 60/40 conservative portfolio which has substantially less exposure to stocks and more exposure to bonds. He suggests an equity mix using SPY, VO, IWM and EFA. For the bond position, he uses BSV, BLV, CFT and TIP. He also throws in a REIT fund (VNQ) for non-correlated market exposure.

Future Tense

Toward the end of the book, Carrel considers what the future of the ETF marketplace could become. While active ETFs have yet to make any significant impact in the business, the number of active mutual funds outnumbers that of index mutual funds. Could the same thing eventually happen with ETFs? Another area of future ETF asset growth is inside the lucrative 401(k) retirement market. Millions of 401(k) investors have no low-cost investment options or diversified choices like commodities, international bonds or REITs. Companies like Invest n Retire and WisdomTree are already aggressively pushing ETF/401(k) retirement plans. As complicated as ETF investing may sometimes seem, simplicity is often best. “The basic challenge for
the individual investor is to achieve a broadly diversified portfolio for the least amount of money,” states Carrel. This book should go a long
way to helping not just investors but top-notch financial professionals accomplish this noble objective.

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Study: Self-Directed Investors Use ETFs 20% More than Advised Investors

Cogent Research, a research firm I’ve never heard of, agrees with the assessment Bruce Bond, the CEO of PowerShares, made on this blog last week.

“We think that what is happening in the broader market has truncated the adoption of the ETF among the investment professional community,” said Bond.

Cogent says self-directed investors are playing an increasingly significant role in defining the ETF product landscape. In ETF Investor Brandscape, a recently published national study of 4,000 affluent Americans, the firm says “interest, usage and commitment to ETFs is significantly higher among self-directed investors who manage their own portfolios.”

According to Cogent, these are the study’s major findings:

* Self-directed investors’ awareness of several top ETF providers is almost twice that of advised investors.

* Equal proportions of self-directed and advised investors use ETFs, however, self-directed investors allocate 20% more of their portfolio to ETFs (The actual numbers were 17% average allocation to ETFs among self-directed vs. 14.1% average allocation to ETFs among advised).

* Among current ETF owners, self-directed investors are far more loyal to their primary ETF provider than are investors who purchase and own their investments through an advisor.

* Usage of ETFs is expected to increase significantly in 2009 among current owners and non-owners alike. On average, one out of every four (25%) current ETF owners plans to increase their ETF holdings. Among self-directed investors, the proportion of likely increased use rises to 35%, representing a 40% higher increased adoption rate.

* iShares and Vanguard are fighting for the number one spot in overall customer experience, which will payoff in loyalty and increased investments. Meanwhile, PowerShares, State Street Global Advisors, and ProShares must work harder to inspire existing clients to increase investments. Furthermore, challenger brands like WisdomTree and Rydex need to focus on the basics–increasing investor awareness of their offerings.

“Everything we see in the data suggests that there is real ‘home-grown’ passion among investors–both advised and self-directed–for ETFs,” says Christy White, founder and principal of Cogent Research in a written statement. “Providers that are committed to promoting and supporting a dual distribution strategy will prevail in this growing marketplace.”

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.

ETFs See Cash Inflows Even as Asset Values Fall

ETFs and ETNs continue to see net cash inflows even as total assets under management fall. The conclusion is this is a function of just falling asset values.

According to the National Stock Exchange (NSX), at the end of November, total U.S. listed ETF and ETN assets fell 16.8% to $487.6 billion from $585.8 billion in November 2007. However, net cash inflows for the month were $26.4 billion, bringing the total net cash flow for the 11 months through Nov. 30 to $136.8 billion. In November, 315 ETFs saw net cash inflows, while 179 saw outflows. ETNs split at 16 each.

Notional trading volume in both ETFs and ETNs fell 33% in November from October to $2.2 trillion. Surprisingly, this represents a record 43% of all U.S. equity trading volume, up from 38% in October. That just shows how much total equity volume must have fallen off. At the end of November 2008, the number of listed products totaled 843, compared with 650 listed products one year ago and 806 in October.
According to the NSX, the only ETF firms that saw assets grow are State Street Global Advisers, ProShares, Van Eck and

Ameristock/Victoria Bay. All those firms saw net cash inflows for the year through Nov. 30 increase compared with the first 11 months of 2007. Vanguard did as well. ProShares’s assets under management rocketed 112% to $20.9 billion. SSGA’s assets grew 8.3% to $142.9 billion. This really shouldn’t be a surprise. ProShares sponsors the inverse and leveraged ETFs that have proved hugely popular in the market turmoil. SSGA sells the largest, most liquid ETF, the SPDR (SPY), which tracks the S&P 500. Many investors making a flight to safety or seeking a place to hold cash on a temporary basis will move to the S&P 500. Even as the S&P 500 sinks, the SPDR’s 2008 net cash inflows have surged 86% year-over-year through Nov. 30 to $18.23 billion.

Meanwhile, BGI’s iShares saw assets tumbled 29% to $229.3 billion.

Firms with net cash outflows in November included PowerShares, $309 million, and Merrill Lynch’s HOLDRs, which saw redemptions of $889 million. Surprisingly, the HOLDRs saw net cash outflows of $3.6 billion in 2007, but are up $1.2 billion so far this year. Other firms that experienced outflows in November were WisdomTree, FirstTrust, and SPA-ETF. Firms with net outflows year-to-date include Bank of New York, Rydex, X-Shares, Ziegler, FocusShares and BearStearns. The last two have gone out of business this year. Rydex is suffering as the strengthening dollar hurts its CurrencyShares.

As for ETNs, Barclay’s iPath family saw assets plunge 36% to $2.6 billion. In November, iPath saw outflows of $39 million. Morgan Stanley/Van Eck ETNs recorded outflows of $16 million in November. Meanwhile, Goldman Sach’s ETNs net cash outflows grew to $97 million year-to-date. Comparisons are not relevant for many of the other ETN firms as they had few funds, if any, last year.

Among the top ten ETFs and ETNs, the SPDR (SPY), iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund (EFA), SPDR Equity Gold (GLD), iShares S&P 500 Index Fund (IVV), iShares Russell 1000 Growth Index Fund (IWF) and iShares Russell 2000 Index Fund (IWM) all saw net cash inflows in November, according the NSX. Of the 10 largest funds, these saw outflows last month: iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM), PowerShares QQQ (QQQQ), iShares Barclays Aggregate Bond Fund (AGG) and the Dow Diamonds (DIA).

The NYSE Group also releases volume data for its exchanges. Average daily matched volume for ETFs, or the total number of shares of ETFs executed on the entire NYSE Group’s exchanges surged 93.5% to 672 million shares from 347 million shares in November 2007. Total matched volume for the month totaled 12,765 million shares, a 75.1% increase. Total volume year-to-date through Nov. 30 jumped 74.7% from the same period last year to 102,583 million shares.

Handled volume, which represents the total number of shares of equity securities and ETFs internally matched on the NYSE Group’s exchanges or routed to and executed at an external market center, totaled 14,813 million shares last month, a 77.6% surge over the year-ago month. Average daily handled volume rocketed 96.3% to 780 million shares from 397 million shares a year ago. Year-to-date total volume climbed 78.1% to 117,629 million shares.

The NYSE also reported total ETF consolidated volume for the month leapt 92.1% to 45,151 million shares, while total average daily volume soared 112.3% to 2,376 million shares. Year-to-date, total consolidated ETF volume surged 119.4% over the first 11 months of 2007 to 355,133 million shares. I think those refer just to the NYSE Group.

WisdomTree Now Offers Growth

Nice ticker symbol.

WisdomTree on Thursday launched the LargeCap Growth Fund (ROI) on the NYSE Arca. ROI is usually the symbol for “return on investment.” Nice score on WisdomTree’s part.

The new ETF is designed to track the WisdomTree LargeCap Growth Index. This fundamentally-weighted index measures the performance of approximately 300 domestic large-cap growth companies. Each company’s weighting is set annually and based on the earnings generated during the prior four fiscal quarters. The ETF has an expense ratio of 0.38%.

WisdomTree, the market leader in fundamentally-weighted indexes, is best known for its family of ETFs based on dividends-weighted indexes. This isn’t the firm’s first earnings-based ETF, it launched a few others earlier in the year. But it is a radical departure for WisdomTree. It’s the first growth-oriented fund in this value-oriented firm. Not only is this WisdomTree’s first fund focused on growth stocks, but it’s the first growth-oriented ETF among all the Fundamentalists, those fund families with indexes based on fundamental metrics.

One big disadvantage of dividend-based ETFs is that they ignore strong companies that refuse to pay out dividends, such as technology companies. Earnings-based indexes, and especially growth funds, have the potential to expand WisdomTree’s customer base by offering an ETF with some of the fastest growing companies in the world, such as Google.

Jeremy Siegel, famed professor of the Wharton Business School and a senior advisor to WisdomTree, said in a written statement, “I devoted the first chapter of my book, The Future for Investors, to what I call the ‘Growth Trap,’ the long-standing problem of investors paying too much for the future prospects of growth companies.”

One assumes the new ETF digs itself out of the “Growth Trap”, but WisdomTree didn’t elaborate. The company did say, “growth’s historic underperformance may have more to do with how the major growth indexes are constructed, than with growth stocks themselves.”

iShares Market Share Falls to 47% as SPDR Pulls in $28.6 billion in Assets

Morgan Stanley provides some of the best ETF research on all of Wall Street. Analysts Paul Mazzilli and Dominic Maister have been covering the industry for years. In light of the recent market turmoil and negative effects it has had on the ETF industry, as well as the rest of the economy, it’s worth perusing Morgan’s ETF report on the third quarter. All the data in this entry is from Morgan Stanley’s Nov. 14 report ETF Net Cash Inflows and Listings Growth Continues.

There are currently 724 ETFs or exchange-traded products trading in the U.S. This number does not include exchange-traded notes (ETNs). Currently, 408 ETFs provide exposure to the U.S. equity market; 224 provide exposure to international and global equity markets.

There are 56 ETFs that offer fixed-income exposure. They track indices for U.S. Treasury and agency bonds, investment grade debt, mortgage-backed securities, high-yield bonds, preferred stock, national and single state municipal bonds and foreign sovereign and emerging market debt.

There are 36 exchange-traded products (ETPs) that provide exposure to alternative asset classes including commodities and currencies. Three commodity ETPs hold physical gold or silver, while 15 other ETPs utilize futures for exposure to individual or baskets of commodities. There are 18 currency ETPs that invest in foreign time deposits, short-term securities or currency futures. Commodity and currency ETPs are not ETFs because strictly speaking they are not funds registered under the U.S. Investment Company Act of 1940.

Barclays Global Investors (BGI) family of ETFs, the iShares, remains the market leader with 164 U.S.-listed ETFs and $208 billion in assets under management. The company holds 47.3% of the market, down from 50.9% last quarter. The firm saw net cash inflows of $23.9 billion this quarter, the second highest in the industry.

With 80 ETFs and $116 billion in assets in the U.S., State Street Global Advisors, which runs the SPDR family, is the second largest ETF provider. It has a market share of 26.5% up from 23% in the second quarter. State Street garnered the most net cash inflows this past quarter with $41.8 billion, with $28.6 billion of that going into the SPDR (SPY). SSGA launched 10 new funds during the quarter.

I will list the rest in terms of size as measured by assets under management.

3) Vanguard is the third largest with 38 U.S.-listed ETFs and $35.8 billion in assets. That equals an 8.1% share. In the third quarter Vanguard had $5.5 billion in net cash inflows, but no new funds.

4) PowerShares Capital Management has 123 U.S.-listed ETFs with $21.4 billion in assets, or a 4.9% share. Net cash inflows equaled $4.6 billion; with $4.3 billion going into the PowerShares QQQ (QQQQ). PowerShares launched 8 new funds this past quarter. PowerShares active ETFs in April have not yet generated significant investor interest.

5) ProShares has 64 U.S.-listed ETFs with more than $19 billion in assets, or a 4.4% market share. Following a strong first half of the year, last quarter ProShares saw net cash outflows of $0.7 billion, largely from their leveraged funds that provide minus 200% daily returns.

6) World Gold Trust Services is the sixth largest ETF provider with only one ETF, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD). That has $17.5 billion in assets and is the fourth largest US-listed ETF. GLD had net inflows this past quarter of $3.2 billion and has had the fourth largest net inflows of any ETF this year.

7) Even though HOLDRs are not funds, Morgan calls Merrill Lynch the seventh largest ETF provider. HOLDRs are grantor trusts with different tax structures than ETFs. Merrill’s 17 HOLDRs have assets of $4.5 billion and had net inflows of $2.9 billion this past quarter. Surprisingly, several HOLDRs continue to represent the largest or most liquid ETF-type product by which investors can access a given industry. HOLDRs haven’t released a new product since 2001,

8 ) Rydex Investments has 0.9% market share with 39 U.S.-listed ETFs and $4.1 billion in assets. It experienced net cash outflows of $0.6 billion this quarter, primarily because of its CurrencyShares Euro Trust, which tracks the performance of the euro versus the US dollar.

9) DB (Deutsche Bank) Commodity Services has 11 U.S.-listed ETFs with $3.5 billion in assets, or a 0.8% share. It saw net outflows of $1.2 billion in the third quarter, with half of that coming out of the PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund (DBA). DBCS did not launch any ETFs this past quarter.

10) WisdomTree Asset Management is the tenth largest ETF provider. It has a 0.7% market share with $3.0 billion in 49 U.S.-listed ETFs. It launched one new ETF last quarter, and the firm saw net cash outflows of $12 million.

11) Van Eck Associates’ Market Vectors family has 16 U.S.-listed ETFs with $2.6 billion in assets, or a 0.6% share. It launched 3 new funds last quarter and saw a total of $34 million in net inflows.

12) United States Commodity Funds (USCF), which products the U.S. Oil (USO) fund, has a market share of 0.4% with five U.S.-listed ETFs with $1.7 billion in assets. It saw net cash inflows in the second quarter of $2.3 billion.

13) First Trust Advisors lists 38 ETFs in the U.S. and holds $1.0 billion in assets, for a 0.2% share. This past quarter, it saw net cash inflows of $0.3 billion.

14) Claymore Advisors has $0.8 billion in assets in 33 U.S.-listed ETFs, for a 0.2% market share. It saw net cash outflows last quarter of $0.2 million.

Morgan says “nine other ETF providers have 38 ETFs combined with assets totaling roughly $319 million. Most of the ETFs issued by these ten firms have yet to gain meaningful traction.”

RevenueShares Launches 5th Fund

RevenueShares Investor Services launched its fifth ETF under the family name RevenuesShares. The RevenueShares ADR Fund ETF (RTR) tracks the RevenueShares ADR Index which holds the same securities as the S&P ADR Index, but re-weights the constituent securities according to the revenue earned by the companies. ADRs, or American depositary receipts, trade in the U.S. but represent shares of stocks that list in foreign markets.

The ETF provider, which launched its first three ETFs in February, uses an innovative index strategy, that, not surprisingly, weight indexes by revenue instead of market capitalization. This follows last week’s launch of the RevenueShares Financials Sector Fund (RWW). That ETF tracks the the S&P 500 Financials Index, but rebalances it according to revenues.

“Rebalancing by revenue offers less exposure to the impact of inefficiencies that occur in a market capitalization-weighted index, while adding the potential for excess returns,” said Sean O’Hara, president of RevenueShares Investor Services, in a press release. “We believe strongly in the buy low, sell high philosophy and RWW is coming out at a time when we believe the sector is near all-time lows. It is contrary to what many other fund companies might offer at this time.”

RevenueShares follows a trend in the ETF industry in which new fund providers must created innovative indexes with the goal of beating market benchmarks in order to garner investor interest and assets. The RevenueShares aren’t the first ETF sponsor to use revenues, or any fundamental metric, as a basis for index weightings. Research Affiliates created the first fundamentally-based index, the Research Affiliates Fundamental Index, or RAFI, in 2005. It’s based on four fundamental factors, of which one is revenue. PowerShares launched the first RAFI-based ETF, the FTSE RAFI US 1000 Portfolio (PRF), which tracks 1000 large-cap stocks, the same year. There are now 22 FTSE RAFI ETFs. WisdomTree also uses fundamentals as the basis for its indexes, but these are weighted according to dividends. Spa’s MarketGrader ETFs chooses index constituents based on fundamental metrics, but uses an equal weighting instead.

Since their February 22 inceptions, the net asset values of the RevenueShares Large Cap Fund (RWL) has fallen 10.6%, the RevenueShares Mid Cap Fund (RWK) has dropped 10.2%, and the RevenueShares Small Cap Fund (RWJ) is down 4%.

Including today’s listings, NYSE Arca has 641 primary ETF listings, 84 ETNs and 25 certificates. Total exchange traded products listed on NYSE Arca represent 61% of ETF and ETN assets under management in the U.S., or nearly $304 billion.