No Longer the Bill Gross ETF, BOND Steady Despite his Exit

On news of Bill Gross’ departure from the firm he founded, the PIMCO Total Return ETF (NYSEArca: BOND) is trading only modestly lower Friday, though volume in the actively managed ETF is already approaching 13 times the daily average.

Earlier today, it was revealed that Gross, formerly a PIMCO managing director and chief investment officer, is leaving the firm to join Janus Capital (NYSE: JNS). Gross “will manage a recently launched Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund and related strategies, and will join Myron Scholes, Ph.D., and other members of the Janus team focused on global asset allocation,” according to a statement issued by Denver-based Janus.

A plethora of credible news agencies are reporting that Gross left PIMCO before the firm, a unit of German financial services giant Allianz , could fire him.

Gross’ departure from California-based PIMCO comes just days after it was revealed that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating pricing practices at BOND, the second-largest U.S. actively managed ETF behind its family member, the PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity ETF (NYSEArca: MINT). [BOND ETF Deals With SEC Probe]

Late Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported the SEC is probing PIMCO regarding pricing issues at BOND that potentially could have inflated returns advertised to prospective investors. However, the Journal also acknowledged “It isn’t clear any of the actions by Pimco that are being examined are improper. It can be difficult to ascertain proper valuations in the debt markets, especially for bonds that are relatively small in dollar terms or don’t trade frequently.”

When news of the SEC probe into BOND, the ETF version of the Gross’ Total Return mutual fund, first broke it was not clear if PIMCO was specifically being investigated for improprieties. That remains the case and the firm says it is fully cooperating with the SEC. [Nothing Unusual With BOND Amid Probe]

“It has been a tough past year and a half for Gross and PIMCO Total Return. The mutual fund suffered 15 straight months of outflows, Gross’ then Co-Chief Investment Officer and PIMCO’s CEO, Mohammed El-Erian, left in January and most recently, BOND is being investigated by the SEC for how it calculates the performance of odd-lot bonds purchases,” said S&P Capital IQ in a new research note.

The research firm has a marketweight rating on BOND. Despite the turmoil at the Total Return Mutual Fund, BOND has added $152.4 million in new assets during the current quarter and has outpaced passively managed rivals such as the iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NYSEArca: AGG) and the Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (NYSEArca: BND) on a year-to-date basis.