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Friday, May 22, 2009

Active ETFs are Starting Slowly

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Actively-managed ETFs are proving to have been more anticipated by the financial press than investors. Daisy Maxey explores the current crop of active ETFs in Friday's WSJ Fund Track and finds demand to be less than stellar.

She points out that the ETF that most closely hews to the active fund model -- Grail Advisors' Grail American Beacon Large Cap Value ETF (GVT) -- relies on three subadvisors to help disguise its trades and discourage front-running (a top concern about active ETFs). That fund launched just three weeks ago and it is very soon to determine its success. The subadvisors are: Brandywine Global Investment Management LLC, Hotchkis & Wiley Capital Management LLC and Metropolitan West Capital Management LLC.

Meanwhile, Invesco Powershares launched five active ETFs over the course of 2008, but only raised $21 million in assets under management for the quintet. The funds are: Invesco's Powershares Active Low Duration ETF (PLK), Active Alpha Multi-Cap Fund (PQZ), Active AlphaQ Fund (PQY), Active Mega Cap Fund (PMA) and Active U.S. Real Estate Fund (PSR).

The column also notes the "quantitative and formulaic" ETFs that some liken to active products and that have gathered $2.67 billion. Those include Invesco PowerShares Capital Management LLC's Dynamic Market portfolios and First Trust Advisors LP's AlphaDEX which launched in 2007. 

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