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How does a 3x ETF gain 3 times the index performance

April 27th, 2009

3x1We have been asked many times the question: How can an ETF gain three times the performance of an index and where does this money come from. We have included the following from the Direxion Prospectus (FAS, FAZ) which should help answer this question. Keep in mind, these tools are to be used as a daily trading instrument, not a long term investment.


Rafferty Asset Management, LLC (“Rafferty” or “Adviser”), the investment adviser to the Funds, uses a number of investment techniques in an effort to achieve the stated goal for each Fund. For the Bull Funds, Rafferty attempts to magnify the returns of each Bull Fund’s index or benchmark for the relevant period. The Bear Funds are managed to provide returns inverse (or opposite) by a defined percentage to the return of each Bear Fund’s index or benchmark for the relevant period.

Rafferty creates net “long” positions for the Bull Funds and net “short” positions for the Bear Funds. (Rafferty may create short positions in the Bull Funds and long positions in the Bear Funds even though the net exposure in the Bull Funds will be long and the net exposure in the Bear Funds will be short.) Long positions move in the same direction as their index or benchmark, advancing when the index or benchmark advances and declining when the index or benchmark declines. Short positions move in the opposite direction of the index or benchmark, advancing when the
index or benchmark declines and declining when the index or benchmark advances. Rafferty generally does not use fundamental securities analysis to accomplish such correlation. Rather, Rafferty primarily uses statistical and quantitative analysis to determine the investments each Fund makes and the techniques it employs. As a consequence, if a Fund is performing as designed, the return of the index or benchmark will dictate the return for that Fund. Each Fund pursues its investment objective regardless of market conditions and does not take defensive positions.

A Fund generally will hold a representative sample of the securities in its benchmark index. The sampling of securities that is held by a Fund is intended to maintain high correlation with, and similar aggregate characteristics (e.g., market capitalization and industry weightings) to, the
benchmark index. A Fund also may invest in securities that are not included in the index or may overweight or underweight certain components of the index. A Fund’s assets may be concentrated in an industry or group of industries to the extent that the Fund’s benchmark index concentrates in a particular industry or group of industries. In addition, each Fund is nondiversified, which means that it may invest in the securities of a limited number of issuers.

Each Bull Fund and Bear Fund has a clearly articulated goal which requires the Fund to seek economic exposure in excess of its net assets. To meet its objectives, each Fund invests in some combination of financial instruments so that it generates economic exposure consistent with the Fund’s investment objective. The impact of market movements determines whether a portfolio needs to be re-positioned. If the target index has risen on a given day, a Bull Fund’s net assets should rise, meaning the Fund’s exposure may need to be increased. Conversely, if the target index has fallen on a given day, a Bull Fund’s net assets should fall, meaning the Fund’s exposure may need to be reduced. If the target index has risen on a given day, a Bear Fund’s net assets should fall, meaning the Fund’s exposure may need to be reduced. If the target index has fallen on a given day, a Bear Fund’s net assets should rise, meaning the Fund’s exposure may need to be increased. A Fund’s portfolio may also need to be changed to reflect changes in the composition of an index and corporate actions like
stock splits and spin-offs. Rafferty increases the Fund’s exposure when its assets rise and reduces the Fund’s exposure when its assets fall. To determine which instruments to purchase or sell, Rafferty identifies instruments it believes exhibit price anomalies among the relevant group of
financial instruments to identify the more advantageous instrument.

Each Bull and Bear Fund is designed to provide daily investment returns, before fees and expenses, that are a multiple of the returns of its index or benchmark for the stated period. While Rafferty attempts to minimize any “tracking error” (the statistical measure of the difference between the investment results of a Fund and the performance of its index or benchmark), certain factors will tend to cause a Fund’s investment results to vary from the stated objective. A Fund may have difficulty in achieving its daily target due to fees and expenses, high portfolio turnover, transaction costs and/or a temporary lack of liquidity in the markets for the securities held by the Fund.

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