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Rating:New Oil ETF Gains Attention, But Little Scrutiny Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, May 23, 2005

New Oil ETF Gains Attention, But Little Scrutiny

Reported by Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

While fund industry mainstays beg for attention, little-known advisor to the Ameristock fund is getting attention for its newest fund. The Wall Street Journal even gives Standard Asset Management, Ameristock's advisor, a hug with positive coverage of a planned ETF that will track the price of crude oil. Interestingly, the WSJ report notes that the SEC may be a while in approving the fund, but fails to inform investors of Standard Assets' small size, idiosyncratic history and lack of track record in running ETFs.

Fund industry insiders may best know the Alameda, California-based fund firm as the shop that hoped to convert one of its open-end funds into an operating company in the model of Warren Buffett. That plan did not work out and the board of the Ameristock Focused Value Fund decided to liquidate the fund, observing that the "continuation of the Fund is not in the best interests of the Fund or its shareholders due to the failure of the Fund to reach the asset level necessary to permit efficient and profitable operation of the Fund."

Morningstar, for its part, notes the unique history of the fund advisor "known for audacious plans," and that neither of the two portfolio managers named by the fund -- Nicholas D. Gerber and marketer John Love -- "have experience running a commodity pool." Gerber did once serve as managing director of a futures index fund, Morningstar adds.

Meanwhile, the WSJ plays the filing as a straight oil-bet for potential investors. Rather than focus on the history of the fund advisor, reporter Tara Siegel Barnard focus on the likelihood that potential shareholders will likely have to wait a long time before they can buy shares. In the case of the first gold ETF, for example, she reports that the SEC approval took two years.

Barnard also speaks to Cliff Weber, senior vice president of the ETF Marketplace at the American Stock Exchange, who tells her that the oil ETF "is interesting in that the structure has the potential to allow for further expansion of the ETF product line into other types of commodities." 

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