Have you Invested in Outrageous ETFs?
In an article from Forbes.com, May 27, 2011, Zack O’Malley Greenburg writes that a little over a year ago, fund provider Direxion launched an ETF (Exhange Traded Fund) called the Daily Semiconductor Bull 3x Shares. Its aim was to triple the performance of the PHLX Semiconductor Sector Index. Not as simple a task as it seems, apparently: Over the next seven months the index rose 5%, while the Direxion fund returned -6.25%.
Maybe investors should have heeded Direxion’s own disclaimer: “There is no guarantee the fund will meet its stated investment objective.”
This is the way of things in the world of ETFs, writes Greenburg, where offerings have exploded in recent years. Nearly 900 ETFs have been launched over the past five years, leading to a preponderance of funds that straddle the line from obscure to downright bizarre. Among them are leveraged ETFs like the aforementioned semiconductor fund that seek to double or triple the performance of sectors–and don’t always succeed. Examples range from the ProShares Ultra KBW Regional Banking ETF, to the Direxion Daily Agribusiness Bear 3x Shares ETF, which trades under ticker symbol COWS. There is also a smattering of international offerings, which comprised half of all new S&P-based index funds launched last year. Market Vectors parent Van Eck recently announced plans to launch a Mongolia ETF.
Forbes.com writes that there are a few ETFs so outrageous that they’ve already been shut down–for example, the HealthShares Dermatology and Wound Care ETF, shuttered in 2008 due to lack of demand. Others, like the PowerShares Dynamic Brand Name Products Portfolio and the PowerShares Autonomic Allocation Research Affiliates Portfolio, never even made it past the planning stages.
We are reminded that many obscure ETFs like Direxion’s leveraged semiconductor fund can be hazardous to investors who aren’t careful. These leveraged funds are designed for day-traders and backed by derivatives. Though providers warn that these funds are not meant to be held as long-term assets, many investors miss the fine print.
The Forbes.com article says that the SEC launched a review of all funds last March, deferring applications for “actively managed and leveraged ETFs that particularly rely on swaps and other derivative instruments to achieve their investment objectives” in the meantime. There has been a lot of concern generally about derivatives in the last few years, and specifically in our division about the use of derivatives by investment companies, including ETFs,” says Elizabeth Osterman, head of the exemptive applications office of SEC’s Division of Investment Management. “Our decision to defer the review of exemptive applications for derivatives-based ETFs reflects concerns about whether granting exemptive relief for those funds would be consistent with required regulatory standards in light of those concerns.”
Greenburg goes on to say that the SEC hasn’t yet resumed allowing providers to launch new leveraged ETFs, but it hasn’t banned existing products or disallowed existing issuers from creating new ones. The three leading providers of such funds–Direxion, Rydex and ProShares–now have something of a lock on leveraged ETFs. And no matter how outlandish their products may sound, they continue to be popular.
If you have invested in an ETFs and lost your investment, you may have valuable legal rights to be compensated for your losses. Call a Securities Arbitration Lawyer at Soreide Law Group for a free consultation on how to potentially recover your losses. To speak with an attorney, call 888-760-6552, or visit www.stockmarketlawsuit.com.
Soreide Law Group, PLLC., representing investors nationwide before FINRA the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
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