Old is new when it comes to exchange-traded fund (ETFs) launches. This week’s latest round of new ETF products continues the trend of issuers re-tweaking old funds and strategies in an attempt to make them better. It’s become commonplace for issuers to add new smart-beta touches to bread-and-butter products launched years ago.
For fund sponsor WisdomTree, that meant tackling one of its most popular funds and giving it a new twist.
For leveraged, short and alternative ETF specialist Direxion, that meant taking away some of the “oomph” associated with its bear ETF products.
All in all, the reworking of products provides investors with more choices when building their portfolios and these five new funds add to that mix nicely.
WisdomTree Gets International Dividend Fever
WisdomTree has been at the forefront of the smart-beta revolution for years now and was one of the first firms to really develop fundamental indexes. Much of that has come with a hefty side of dividends and earnings-related factors. Its latest two launches on April 7 – the WisdomTree Emerging Markets Dividend Fund (DVEM ) and the* WisdomTree International Quality Dividend Growth Fund* (IQDG ) – build upon that strength.
DVEM will seek to provide exposure to stocks in 17 different emerging-market nations that pay dividends. If that sounds familiar, you’re spot on. The $1.3 billion WisdomTree Emerging Markets High Dividend Fund (DEM ) has been a popular way for investors to get their emerging-market dividend fix for years and was one of the first funds to tap into developing-market dividends.
However, DEM’s index always skewed towards high-yielding equities. That potentially give it a different risk profile than many investors were expecting. To that end, the new DVEM will also screen for various fundamental factors to kick out “lessor” dividend equities. Like DEM, DVEM will then weight the stocks by dividends paid. All in all, the fund will provide a dose of quality as well as high yield.
IQDG hopes to combine several funds and ideas into one ticker. Until now, investors needed to sacrifice growth potential for dividends and vice versa. The new ETF is designed to provide exposure to developed-market stocks, excluding Canada and the U.S.
IQDG’s index, the WisdomTree International Quality Dividend Growth Index, will screen for factors such as long-term earnings growth expectations and three-year historical averages for return on equity and return on assets to assemble its portfolio. After those screens are applied, the index/fund will weight its holdings based on annual cash dividends paid. Again, investors are able to gain growth exposure as well as a hefty dose of income.
Expenses for DVEM and IQDG will run 0.32% and 0.38%, respectively, or about $32 and $38 per $10,000 invested.
Direxion Gets Less Short
Leveraged ETFs have come under plenty of scrutiny from the SEC, FINRA, and other legislative organizations. Some market pundits have speculated that issuers may be forced to close many of the high-leveraged long and inverse funds on the market. As a result, fund issuers Direxion and ProShares have begun efforts to dial back some of the leverage used in their short ETFs.
The Direxion Daily Energy Bear 1x Shares (ERYY ), Direxion Daily Financial Bear 1x Shares (FAZZ ) and the Direxion Daily Technology Bear 1x Shares (TECZ ) are all inverse 1x ETFs. The three new ETFs allow investors to go short their respective sectors (energy, financials and tech stocks) at just one times the market movements, reset daily. Like their 3x sisters, such as the Direxion Daily Financial Bear 3x (FAZ ), the new ETFs will use a combination of futures to provide short exposure to the popular Select Sector Indexes of the S&P 500.
Aside from getting ahead of future regulation, the new ETFs provide traders and investors a low-cost way to hedge against short-term market risk. The problem with the 3x funds is that the capital gains tax on such leverage can sometimes cancel out the potential hedging. By only going one times the movement, investors can capture downside protection without paying significant amounts to Uncle Sam.
The inverse ETFs will charge 0.45% in expenses.