Did You Own Any Of The Worst ETFs of 2017

Matt Thalman - INO.com Contributor - ETFs

2017 was a good year for investors as the S&P 500 increased 19.42%, but unfortunately, not all investors saw their investments grow in value during the year. Investors who had purchased some different Exchange Traded Funds saw their investments nearly disappear during what will be referred to as an “up” year for investors and the stock market.

What is not surprising though is that seven of the nine most prominent ETF losers of 2017 had something to do with investing in the Volatility Index. The worst performer was the ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (UVXY), falling 93.96%. This fund provides 2X exposure to short-term, first and second month, VIX futures. The UVXY is a fund essentially will offer investors a way to make money if the VIX itself increases. Furthermore, because this fund is leveraged 2X, if the VIX increases by 10%, UVXY investors will make 20%. But, due to the fund's exposure, it has high carrying costs, meaning investors who hold the fund for more than one day will lose money due to those roll costs.

Therefore, the UVXY needs both the market to be volatile regularly for investors to make any money, even over a small period of time. In 2018 its unlikely UVXY will lose as much as it did in 2017 because the end of 2016 was highly volatile following the election of President Trump. Continue reading "Did You Own Any Of The Worst ETFs of 2017"

ETFs to Buy, to Sell, and to Watch in 2017

Matt Thalman - INO.com Contributor - ETFs

Now that we have rung in the New Year, now is a good time to take a look at your portfolio and make some adjustments. But, before you start buying and selling, you need to know what to buy, what to sell and what you should have on hold.

So with that in mind, let's take a look at a few Exchange Traded Funds you may want to buy, a few you should sell, and a couple that you should have in your hold or watch list.

What To Buy

In 2016 one of the top-performing ETFs was the Direxion Daily Regional Banks Bull 3X Shares (PACF:DPST). DPST rose more than 114% in 2016 due to its exposure to regional banking stocks, and of course is three times bullish leverage. And while most of the time I would tell you not to follow a trend from one year to the next, 2017 is going to be different. The banking stocks rose in 2016 for a number of reasons, but mainly because the economy grew stronger and interest rates rose.

There are no signs at this point indicating that neither of those trends will cease to continue in 2017, so ride this trend.

Ok, let's slow down and understand why this trend will continue to work. Continue reading "ETFs to Buy, to Sell, and to Watch in 2017"

ETF's That Let You Trade the Volatility Index "VIX"

Matt Thalman - INO.com Contributor - ETFs

One of the many great side effects to the rise in popularity of Exchange Traded Funds, ETF's, is that they have increased the types of investments individuals can buy into. The average investor can now easy buy and sell funds that hold actual commodities, indexes, bond portfolios, and even dabble in the options markets without ever making a signal put or call trade themselves.

Today, I would like to point out how investors can use ETF's to play the S&P 500 Volatility Index or VIX.

But, before we get into the ETF's that allow you to profit from the VIX's moves, let take a look at the VIX itself and what causes it to move in one direction or the other. The VIX is calculated using option pricing. It looks at the price of the call and put options because we know that higher option prices mean that investors believe there is a greater chance of volatility. Without getting into too much detail about options, the reason this works is because if an underlying security has high volatility it can make an option more or less valuable depending on what side of the trade you are on. Because the level of volatility will change the likelihood, the option will expire in or out of the money.

Are you confused yet? Continue reading "ETF's That Let You Trade the Volatility Index "VIX""

3 ETF's That Focus on Share Buybacks

Matt Thalman - INO.com Contributor - ETFs

Some investors love large dividends. Some like to see strong revenue growth quarter over quarter. Others look for management teams they believe in. There are a hundred different metrics or indicators investors look for in a company or throughout the economy that makes them believe one stock will before better than another.

One that I haven't mentioned, but is very important to some investors, is share buybacks. While this form of returning capital to shareholders, the other being dividends, is questioned by many as whether it is the best use of company capital, in a lot of cases it’s a better use of capital than letting it just sit in the bank or even worse wasting it on risky acquisitions.

Regardless though of your stance on share buybacks, the fact remains they are a huge part of investing. They affect per share earnings, a company's ability to offer a higher dividend, and while, in most cases very small, they give investors a larger piece of the pie. Continue reading "3 ETF's That Focus on Share Buybacks"

World Cup Questions Answered

We've had a lot of questions about the World Cup portfolio (WCP) and its amazing performance so far this year. Through the first 3 quarters of 2014, it's had a very positive 99% return on invested capital.

One of the many questions we have had is, "Can I substitute ETFs for the markets in the WCP?" The short answer is yes you can, but there is one important caveat.

You're not going to get the same returns as the World Cup portfolio. The main reason for this is the leverage involved in the futures markets. In the futures market, you're only putting up a small percentage of the value of the contract. For example in gold, the current margin is $4,400 to control 100 ounces, which is the size of one gold futures contract. Your margin requirements are less than 4% of the total value of one contract. If gold is trading at $1,250, 100 ounces or one contract is worth $125,000.

You don't have that same kind of leverage in an ETF.

Here are the equivalent ETFs to replicate the World Cup portfolio. Please remember this is not a recommended portfolio, as there is no way to short corn, wheat, or soybeans. Continue reading "World Cup Questions Answered"