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

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April 27, 2009 5:31pm NYSE:FAS NYSE:FAZ

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.


Each Bull and Bear Fund invests significantly in swap agreements, forward contracts, reverse repurchase agreements, options, including futures contracts, options on futures contracts and financial instruments such as options on securities and stock indices options, and caps, floors and collars. Rafferty uses these types of investments to produce economically “leveraged” investment results. Leveraging allows Rafferty to generate a greater positive or negative return than what would be generated on the invested capital without leverage, thus changing small market movements into larger changes in the value of the investments of a Fund. Seeking daily leveraged investment results provides potential for greater gains and losses relative to benchmark performance. For instance, the Direxion Daily Large Cap Bull 3X Shares seeks to provide, before fees and expenses, 300% of the daily return of the Russell 1000» Index. If the Russell 1000» Index gains 2% on a given day, the Direxion Daily Large Cap Bull 3X Shares would be expected to gain about 6%. Conversely, if the Russell 1000» Index declines 2% on a given day, the Direxion Daily Large Cap Bull 3X Shares would be expected to about lose 6%.

A Precautionary Note to Investors Regarding Dramatic Index Movement. Each Bull Fund seeks daily exposure to its target index equal to 300% of its net assets while each Bear Fund seeks daily exposure to its target index equal to -300% of its net assets. As a consequence, a Fund could theoretically lose an amount greater than its net assets in the event of a movement of its target index in excess of 33% in a direction adverse to the Fund (meaning a decline in the value of the target index of a Bull Fund and a gain in the value of the target index for a Bear Fund). Rafferty will attempt to position each Fund’s portfolio to ensure that a Fund does not lose more than 90% of its net asset value on a given day. The cost of such downside protection will be symmetrical limitations on gains. If Rafferty successfully positions a Fund’s portfolio to provide such limits, a Fund’s portfolio may not be responsive to index movements beyond 30% in a given day, whether that movement is favorable or adverse to the Fund. For example, if a Bull Fund’s target index were to gain 35%, the Bull Fund might be limited to a daily gain of 90% rather than 105%, which is 300% of the index gain of 35%. Rafferty cannot be assured of similarly limiting a Fund’s losses. In the event of index movement which results in such a limit on gains, including an intra-day move, a Fund’s performance may be inconsistent with its stated investment objective.

The intraday value of a Fund’s shares, otherwise known as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” or “IOPV,” which is disseminated by the Exchange every 15 seconds throughout the trading day, is based on the current market value of the securities and cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit on the prior business day. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities held by a Fund at a particular point in time, nor the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the Fund’s NAV, which is computed only once a day.

The Projected Return of a Fund for a Single Day

A Bull Fund seeks to provide a daily return that is a multiple of the daily return of a target index or benchmark. Doing so requires the use of leveraged investment techniques, which necessarily incur financing charges. For instance, the Direxion Daily Large Cap Bull 3X Shares seeks exposure to its benchmark in an amount equal to 300% of its assets, meaning it uses leveraged investment techniques to seek exposure to the Russell 1000» Index in an amount equal to 300% of its net assets. In light of the financing charges and a Bull Fund’s operating expenses, the expected return of a Bull Fund is equal to the gross expected return, which is the daily benchmark return multiplied by the Bull Fund’s target, minus (i) financing charges incurred by the portfolio and (ii) daily operating expenses. For instance, if the Russell 1000» Index returns 2% on a given day, the gross expected return of the Direxion Daily Large Cap Bull 3X Shares would be 6%, but the net expected return, which factors in the cost of financing the portfolio and the impact of operating expenses, would be lower.

A Bear Fund seeks to provide a daily return which is a multiple of the inverse (or opposite) of the daily return of a target index or benchmark. To create the necessary exposure, a Bear Fund engages in short selling—borrowing and selling securities it does not own. The money that a Bear Fund receives from short sales —the short sale proceeds —is an asset of the Bear Fund that can generate income to help offset the Bear Fund’s operating expenses. However, the costs of creating short exposure, which may require the Fund’s counterparties to borrow and sell certain securities, may offset or outweigh such income. As the holder of a short position, a Bear Fund also is responsible for paying the dividends and interest accruing on the short position, which is an expense to the Fund that could cause the Fund to lose money on the short sale and may adversely affect its performance.

The Projected Returns of Leveraged Index Funds for Periods Longer Than a Single Day. The Funds seek daily leveraged investment results which should not be equated with seeking a leveraged goal for longer than a day. For instance, if the Russell 1000» Index gains 10% for a week, the Direxion Daily Large Cap Bull 3X Shares should not be expected to provide a return of 30% for the week even if it meets its daily target throughout the week. This is true because of the financing charges noted above but also because the pursuit of daily goals may result in daily leveraged compounding, which means that the return of an index over a period of time greater than one day multiplied by a Fund’s daily target or inverse daily target (e.g., 300% or -300%) will not generally equal a Fund’s performance over that same period.

Full Prospectus: http://www.direxionshares.com/pdfs/DRX_prospectus.pdf


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