Exchange traded fund (ETF) issuers continue to push the boundaries when it comes to launching new products in recent months. That’s great news for investors- especially when these new funds turn out to be pretty useful.
And that’s what we got with this week’s five new launches.
This week, the launches from alternative/hedge fund ETF heavy-weight Index IQ, REX Shares and Global X gave us some of the “firsts” in the their respective sectors. That includes a tried-n-true stock strategy applied to bonds as well as a way to actually play “spot” volatility prices.
All in all, these new products continue to expand the toolbox needed to craft market-beating portfolios.
Index IQ Rides The Trends
Momentum investing has often been the realm of traders and stock-jocks, cashing in on the short term movements of high growth equities. Traditionally, bonds have never really been an area where momentum works. Well, times are-a-changing. With the advent of ETFs, market participants can shift through various bond segments with equal speed. Enter Index IQ and its two new ETFs-launched May 10th.
Both the IQ Enhanced Core Bond U.S. ETF (AGGE ) and IQ Enhanced Core Plus Bond U.S. ETF (AGGP ) offer the ability to add momentum to their core bond exposure. Core bonds are considered investment grade IOUs. This includes treasuries, corporate bonds and mortgage-back securities. The “plus” aspect of AGGP adds high yield/junk debt to the mix as well as U.S.-dollar emerging market bonds.
The new ETFs underlying indexes will screen for pricing tends among these bond market sectors and weight them according to their momentum/trend scores. And like the majority of Index IQ’s ETFs, AGGP and AGGE will hold other underlying very liquid ETFs- rather than individual bonds.
The idea is that AGGE and AGGP will be able to capitalize on positive pricing trends by shifting its holdings among the various fixed income sectors. That plus the bond’s yields will provide a total return that should beat static bond indexes like the Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index.
Expenses for AGGE and AGGP run at 0.34% and 0.35%, respectively.
REX Shares Hits The Spot
ETFs that track volatility futures have been sort of a bust for investors. Most have failed to deliver on their promise of really allowing investors the ability to hedge against rises in the market’s jumpiness. That’s partly due to the decay associated with the longer futures contracts on the CBOE Volatility Index. This all changed last summer, when the CBOE announced it would offer weekly expirations on the VIX. The shorter time frame basically gives investors closer exposure to the daily price of the index.
Launched on May 3rd, The REX VolMAXX Long VIX Weekly Futures Strategy ETF (VMAX ) invest in various VIX futures- all while trying to keep its weighted average expiration under 30 days. That allows VMAX to come the closest to spot VIX prices versus any other ETF out there. Thanks to active management, VMAX is less susceptible to massive contango decay and help it on the roll cost front. That should help it deliver a better hedge for investors and traders looking for a hedge against volatility. Its sister fund – the REX VolMAXX Inverse Weekly Futures Strategy ETF (VMIN) – will do the opposite and short weekly futures to provide the inverse effect.
While it remains to be seen if he mouse trap is indeed better. But on paper, it should work in investor’s favor. That better mouse trap is expensive, however. VMAX costs a whopping 1.25% in expenses, while VMIN will set you back 1.45%.
A Bet On Generational Habits
Another update is a new thematic fund from Global X. A lot has been written about the millennial generation – or those people born between 1980 and 2000 – and how they are rewriting the rules when it comes to finance, consumerism, politics, etc. Investors now have a chance to profit as this generation of Americans comes of age.
The Global X Millennials Thematic ETF (MILN ) provides exposure to U.S. stocks that should benefit from the spending power and preferences of the Millennial generation. That includes a hefty dose of tech stocks – like Amazon (AMZN) and Facebook (FB) – as well as retailers like Starbucks (SBUX). The vast bulk of MILN’s holdings are in consumer discretionary stocks. All in all, it’s a unique collection of stocks to bet on a unique generation of Americans. Time will tell, if the ETF gets it right or not. Or whether the Millennial’s end up being more like previous generations when they get older.
Expenses for MILN run 0.68%.