Master limited partnership exchange traded products generate attractive yields and provide exposure to the expanding North American oil industry, but investors may be better served with an exchange traded note.
“It’s rare for an exchange-traded note to be a viable alternative to an exchange-traded fund that tracks the same asset class, but the UBS ETRACS Alerian MLP Infrastructure ETN (NYSEArca: MLPI) is one of these unusual cases,” writes Abby Woodham for Morningstar.
Specifically, the analyst points out that AMJ capped creations in June 2012 as a way to limit costs. Since AMJ does not create new shares, the ETN is basically trading like a closed-end product, which can cause the note to trade at a premium to its net asset value. For instance, AMJ traded at a premium of 2% to 5% between March 2013 through September 2013. The ETN currently trades at a 0.12% discount to its NAV.
Additionally, AMLP is structured as a corporation, not registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, since open-end funds are not allowed to hold more than 25% of their portfolios in MLPs. Consequently, AMLP has to pay taxes whenever it sells underlying investments, which drag’s on the ETF’s performance – AMLP and MLPI both track the Alerian MLP Index, but AMLP only gained 10.2% over the past year while MLPI rose 14.6%.
Nevertheless, Woodham notes that AMLP could outperform the ETN in a down market since an ETF can harvest its tax liability.