Recent market volatilities reminded investors that risk is heightened. For a long term retirement investor, diversification among assets is the first step. On the other hand, some long short strategies in alternative asset classes such as commodities and currencies can be used to further tame market fluctuation.
In the recent financial crisis investors took huge hits. During the financial crisis, some smart investors invested in alternative area such as Exchange traded funds (ETF’s) that tap into managed-futures strategies popular with hedge funds and commodity-trading advisors. For these investors, they were rewarded as these managed futures based ETFs performed well during that period.
The managed futures strategy is nothing new; hedge funds and other large, sophisticated investors have been using quantitative methodologies to direct futures-based strategies for years.
Let’s take a look at some of commodity and currency long short strategy based ETFs:
|Description||Symbol||1 Yr||3 Yr||5 Yr||Avg. Volume(K)||1 Yr Sharpe|
|Elements S&P CTI ETN||LSC||11.45%||NA||NA||43||59.01%|
|iShares Diversified Alternative||ALT||3.54%||NA||NA||24||88.78%|
|WisdomTree Managed Futures||WDTI||NA||NA||NA||48||NA|
For more information on ETFs in various asset classes, please refer to MyPlanIQ ETFs in Asset Classes page.
Clearly the best performer is LSC in the table with the return of 11.43% in a year followed by the ALT with a return of 2.24%. Although the LSC is down from the past week when the returns are 14.43% this is in line with the worldwide corrections in stoks. The expense ratio of LSC is 0.75% which is also the least as compare to the other ETF’s. Please find below the May 2011 long/short positioning of the Index sectors as well as the long/short positioning of the prior month.
|Sector||Previous Position||Current Position||Weight*|
|Softs (by Commodity)|
LSC is based on a well known S&P Commodity Trends Indicator – Total Return index. The Index is designed to apply a long/short strategy to six commodity sectors comprised of sixteen traditional, physical commodity futures contracts. The Index is a total return index designed to reflect the performance of a fully collateralized investment in the futures contracts. Readers can compare LSC with MyPlanIQ’s P S and P Commodity Trend Indicators Strategy which models the same S&P CTI index using Powershares DB commodity ETFs such as (NYSE:DBP), (NYSE:DBB), (NYSE:DBA) and (NYSE:DBO).
ALT return on the securities is linked to the performance of portfolio foreign currency forward contract and exchange traded future contracts that may involve commodities, currencies, interest rate and certain eligible stocks or bonds indices while seeking to reduce the risks and volatility inherent in those investment by taking long and short positions in historically co-related assets.
WDTI employs a quantitative, rules-based strategy designed to provide returns that correspond to the performance of the Diversified Trends Indicator (DTI). The index is a composite of 24 highly liquid futures grouped into 14 sectors, with an even split between financials (i.e., currencies and interest rates) and physical commodities. The positions of each sector are either long or short (except for energy) based on price behaviour relative to a moving average (if energy is not positioned long, the sector weight is allocated to other sectors). Sector weights are determined by global production for commodities, and by GDP tiers for financials. Readers again can compare this fund with MyPlanIQ’s P S and P Diversified Trend Indicators that, in addition to Powershares commodity ETFs, uses CurrencyShares ETFs such as (NYSE:FXE), (NYSE:FXY), (NYSE:FXA), (NYSE:FXF), (NYSE:FXB), (NYSE:FXC) to model the S&P DTI index.
The actively managed long short ETFs mentioned above can indeed provide some diversification benefits for a retirement investing portfolio. As these ETFs are relatively new, investors should monitor these ETFs and do their due diligence.
Disclaimer: MyPlanIQ does not have any business relationship with the company or companies mentioned in this article. It does not set up their retirement plans. The performance data of portfolios mentioned above are obtained through historical simulation and are hypothetical.
LTI Systems, Inc. is the operator of MyPlanIQ.com and ValidFi.com. The founders of LTI Systems have extensive technology and business background in computer and semiconductor industries. They have been using the strategies provided by MyPlanIQ for their own personal retirement and taxable investments. The mission of LTI Systems is to make wealth management investment strategies that are used to be only accessible to institutions and high net worth individuals available to private investors with a fraction of flat cost and ease of use. The founders of LTI Systems, investors themselves, take pride in creating such a system and service for investors by taking the perspective from the investor side. They are using the system and the strategies for their own investment and align their interests with their customers.
MyPlanIQ’s blog provides periodical articles to discuss issues related to retirement plans (401(k), 403(b) and IRAs), deferred compensation plans (457), college savings plans (529), taxable brokerage investment accounts, variable annuities and universal life insurance plans. It also covers investment strategies, specifically strategic and tactical asset allocation and investment products such as ETFs and mutual funds. In addition, it syndicates daily articles that are related to retirement planning, personal finance, investment strategies, annuities, insurance, college savings and market/economic outlooks. It provides a comment and discussion community for readers.