New ETF Launches by Exposure (’15 YTD)

As of April 14, 2015, 65 new ETFs had been launched in the US. The table below categorizes these new ETF launches by type of exposure. A complete list of all ETFs in the US can be accessed here:


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Low Volatility Beats Pure Value As a Defensive Strategy

It is well understood that the relative performance of equity strategies will vary depending on the performance of the broad market.  In this blog post, we briefly examine how key equity strategies have performed over the last 10 years. This time period includes a complete market cycle, including the 2008 bear market and subsequent rebound. We see some interesting results:

The S&P 500 Low Volatility Index was the only one of the 5 strategies we examined that beat the S&P 500 and also had lower volatility over the entire measurement period. Equal weighting, pure growth & pure value all beat… see full post

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Comparison of Share Buyback ETFs

Significant buyback programs from large cap firms like Apple (AAPL), Home Depot (HD) and Boeing (BA) in the last 12 months have put stock buybacks in the spotlight. The table below summarizes the Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that provide access to this strategy.

(Note: Our free monthly ‘ETF 20/20′ landscape report can be accessed on our home page.)

Table: Comparison of Buyback ETFs

Data Source: First Bridge Data analysis based on ETF sponsor websites; As of Mar 17, 2015

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‘ETF 20/20′ – March 2015 ETF Industry Report

The March edition of our ‘ETF 20/20′ landscape report summarizes recent ETF developments.

- Assets for US listed ETFs went up to $2.094T.

- The CAPE (or Shiller P/E) ratio ended February 2015 at 27.81, well above its historical median value.

- The Wisdom Tree Europe Hedged ETF (HEDJ) took in over $5Bn in inflows in 2015 YTD, far outpacing unhedged Europe equity ETFs.

- State Street (SPDR) announced expense ratio fee cuts on 41 ETFs in the US in response to Vangurd’s asset gathering success and the iShares core initiative.

- 22 ETFs were launched in the US in 2015.

The full report can… see full post

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Recent Smart Beta ETF Launches by Category

One of the defining trends of ETF based investing has been the growth in ‘smart beta’ ETFs. Though we don’t like the term (others sometimes refer to it as ‘strategic beta’), this category of ETFs has rapidly grown in adoption.

In April 2014, in a guest post for S&P Dow Jones, we defined ‘smart beta’ and estimated the smart beta ETF space for US equity exposure to be ~ $75B, i.e. about 9% of the total ETF assets for domestic US equities at the time.

Since then, smart beta ETF launches have outnumbered both traditional beta and active ETFs launches in… see full post

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ETF 20/20 Trends Report: Feb 2015

Our latest ‘ETF 20/20 Trends Report’ takes a brief look at some of the important developments relating to US listed ETFs in January 2015. Some of the key areas covered are:

-       ETF assets in the US declined in January to $1.984T.

-       Price declines in the Eurozone accelerated in January according to Eurostat estimates.

-       There was significant volatility in currency ETFs in January, with the Swiss Franc appreciating dramatically when the Swiss National Bank stopped pegging it to the Euro.

-       The number of ETFs in the US declined to 1,652 at the end of Janaury 2015, primarily due to ProShares… see full post

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‘ETF 20/20′ Landscape report – December 2014

In our most recent ‘ETF 20/20′ monthly landscape report, we looked at some recent ETF industry trends, including:

- The SEC’s approval of a new type of ETF structure (called the Exchange Traded Mutual Fund)

- The breakdown of US ETF assets by category; in aggregate the total assets are nearing $2T

- The best and worst performing ETF categories in the trailing 12 months (with the drop in crude oil prices being a significant driver of returns)

- The new ETFs launched in November 2014

- A change to the ‘GICS’ Industry framework that will be effective in 2016.

The full report can be… see full post

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Patenting of Index Strategies

A recent article in Money Management Executive addressed the trend of more patents being filed for index strategies. As indices become more complex and move away from traditional market cap weighting, it likely that we will see more such patents being filed.

I am of the opinion that patenting of indices is more of a marketing tool than a direct market entry deterrent. It must be used in conjunction with other marketing tools such as webinars and whitepapers. Here is the full article:

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‘ETF 20/20′ industry report: October 2014

Our October ‘ETF 20/20’ industry report published earlier this month examined the key recent developments for US listed ETFs. Some highlights are:

Assets declined in September to $1.865T, largely driven by declines in broad market indices across several asset classes.

The dollar strengthened against the major currencies in Q3, making currency-hedging strategies more attractive.

We ended September with the Shiller P/E ratio (CAPE) at 26, above the historical average of 22 over the last 30 years, but well below the levels just prior to the crash.

20 new ETFs were launched in the US in September 2014.

Access the full report for free.

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2014 Active ETF Launches by Month

Of the 136 new ETFs launched in 2014 through end August, 36 of them (26%) have been active ETFs. This marks a continued trend of more active ETF launches. The chart below shows the number of ETF launches (total and active) by month this year.

Chart: Total & Active ETF Launches in the US by Month (2014)

Data: First Bridge Data

- A significant number (10) are from WBI’s August entry into the ETF market.

- Active ETF launches this year are not limited to Equities. They also include several bond ETFs such as FMB (First Trust), YPRO (AdvisorShares), among others.

- A range… see full post

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