After the close of U.S. markets Tuesday, Direxion, the second-largest issuer of inverse and leveraged exchange traded funds, announced a 1-for-10 reverse split for the Direxion Daily Junior Gold Miners Index Bull 3x Shares (NYSEArca: JNUG), the triple-leveraged answer to the popular Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDXJ).
Reverse splits are common with leveraged ETFs. Last month, ProShares, the largest issuer of inverse and leveraged ETFs, announced reverse splits for 10 of its ETFs. Direxion chimed in with an October announcement of reverse splits for four of its ETFs.
With the awful run gold miners have been on, a slide that dates back to early 2013, there is precedent for how leveraged gold miners ETFs perform falling reverse splits. Investors holding JNUGT, of which there are clearly plenty as evidenced by the $560.1 million in new assets that have flowed into the fund this year, should acknowledge that precedent. [JNUG Finally Gets a Reverse Split]
On March 15, 2013, Direxion announced a 1-for-5 reverse split for NUGT. NUGT’s reverse split officially occurred on April 2, 2013. This how the ETF performed from April 2 through June 30, 2013.
NUGT performed so poorly over that period that on July 25, 2013, Direxion announced a 1-for-10 reverse split for the ETF, the most recent reverse split for NUGT. That split became effective on Aug. 20, 2013 and this how NUGT has looked since then.
Of course, past post-split behavior is not guaranteed to repeat, but until gold prices and/or miners’ fundamentals improve, JNUG’s reverse split is no more than artificial price inflation. Without the help of, at the very least, higher gold prices, JNUG could travel a similar post-reverse split path to NUGT.
*Both charts courtesy: Yahoo Finance.