Contango Helps Inverse VIX ETFs Outperform

CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, exchange traded funds track the futures and suffer when the market is stuck in contango. However, inverse VIX ETFs are capitalizing on the phenomenon, steadily strengthening on the quirk in the markets.

For example, the bearish or inverse VIX ETF, the REX VolMAXX Inverse VIX Weekly Futures Strategy ETF (BATS: VMIN), has achieved a total return of 81.04% from its launch on May 2, 2016 through December 31, 2016. In contrast, the VIX performance over the same period was -3.95%.

VMIN capitalized on rolling short VIX futures contracts, according to REX Shares.

“Taking short VIX positions via ETFs is continuing to grow in popularity,” Greg King, founder and CEO of REX Shares, said in a note. “Many people think of volatility funds as having a significant decay in price. While this is generally true of long volatility funds, VMIN takes the other side of that exposure, potentially benefiting from such decay as it accrues in exchange for bearing the risks associated with spikes in volatility. Investors we speak to are often looking to buy the dips in short volatility ETFs as a way to play volatility spikes.”

REX Shares has two VIX-related ETFs, the REX VolMAXX Long VIX Weekly Futures Strategy ETF (BATS: VMAX) and the REX VolMAXX Inverse VIX Weekly Futures Strategy ETF (BATS: VMIN). The two funds provide VIX up and down movements, respectively. The VolMAXX funds have a target weighted average time to expiration of less than 30 days by accessing VIX weekly futures, unlike other ETP options that utilize monthly contracts.