A New ETF with the Leverage and Strategy of a Hedge Fund

ProShares, a leader in “short” and “ultrashort” shares that profit when baskets of stocks fall in price, has released a new fund with a hybrid strategy of buying certain companies and short-selling others.

The fund is the ProShares Credit Suisse 130/30 and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker CSM. The fund will track the Credit Suisse 130/30 index, which includes the 500 largest U.S. companies by market capitalization.

Short selling is a process whereby borrowed shares are sold for cash on the belief that they will fall in value and can be repurchased at a lower cost in the future, which creates a profit spread.

The fund’s assets are 100% invested in equities, a long position taken on stocks expected to rise. Then, using leverage, the fund shorts 30% of the portfolio’s value, selling borrowed shares that are anticipated to fall. It adds the dollars from that sale to the long position, for a total of 130% of assets.

The strategy is to earn a market-beating return on the 130% long position and to garner additional profit from falling prices on the shorted shares.

As an example, say the fund has $100 million in investors’ money. The fund manager invests every dime in a $100 million long position on the old-fashioned “buy low, sell high” theory. At the same time, the fund short-sells shares that add up to 30% of its total assets. It immediately takes that $30 million in cash and adds it to the long position, where it has the chance to grow until the cash is needed to buy the shares the fund is short of. The result is 130% of assets are long and 30% of assets are short, hence the name.

This ETF is likely a good choice for sophisticated investors who understand long/short strategies but who may not be comfortable maintaining short positions on their own. The fund also allows an individual to profit from leverage without risking anything other than the capital investments.

That’s because short sales are transacted in margin accounts and require minimum balances that can change with market conditions. If the value of the stocks shorted were to rise, for example, an investor would be asked to deposit more cash into his account or risk having the position liquidated by his broker. This ETF lets investors avoid all that while still allowing them to profit from a strategy typically only available to hedge-fund clients.

The fund carries an expense ratio of 0.95%.