FAQ | ETF Trends


About ETF Trends Website Tools

  • Which membership level is right for me? If you have a buy and hold strategy for investing, and you find that your investing style is fairly mainstream, then the Premium Membership should fit your needs pretty well. It has all the same capabilities of the Ultra Membership: the Dashboard, the Enhanced ETF Analyzer, and quite a few model portfolios to choose from. It doesn’t offer as many alerts, criteria saves or model portfolios, but if you don’t actively work the market these limitations probably won’t matter. You will receive quarterly rebalancing alerts on the model portfolio of your choice, and can set a few custom alerts to receive emails when a favorite ETF breaks through a price point, or crosses a trend line. If you follow the market closely, actively watching for opportunity, you will probably prefer Ultra Membership. With unlimited criteria saves in ETF Analyzer and unlimited alerts to catch ETFs crossing trend lines and breaking through price targets you’ll be poised for investing success. Your model portfolio selection is greatly expanded, and includes two tactical portfolios with buy-sell alerts.
  • In ETF Resume why do some funds have less tabs of information than others? We’re in the process of building the industry’s best library of ETF information. Since we began we’ve added so much information about ETFs that if our main table was a spreadsheet it would have over 2.7 million cells. That’s not counting another 20 tables, including one with information about the holdings of ETFs with information on over 120,000 stocks and bonds. It’s a herculean effort, and it’s ongoing. Keep watching, we’ll be adding tabs and data as fast as we can.
  • Why are some columns represented with colors, and what do they mean?
    Who wants to look at a boring set of numbers? We chose instead to show all performance related percentages with color coding. As the value moves from zero, first we color the font – green for up, red for down. Then as the number moves higher (or lower) we add a stronger font color and shade the background. A lot simpler to tell performance at a glance, don’t you think?
  • How do I change my membership password? While you are logged in, click on the account link in the top header of every page. On the account page, enter your new password in both the password and verify password fields and click the continue button.
  • How do I cancel my membership? While you are logged in, click on the account link in the top header of every page. On the account page, select the cancel button in the left column and click the continue button.
  • What browsers are supported? The membership tools are a good example of advanced web design. They can be user customized, offer great performance, and are easy to use. To make this happen, we had to let go of some older browsers and so only support the most popular versions. We recommend Firefox 3.6 or higher, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 7.X or 8.X and Safari 4 or higher. There are many smaller browsers out there that don’t support the elements we used to make the site work well for the vast majority of our customers. To support these less featured browsers would have impacted the performance of the site and would represent an even larger investment for us. Please consider using one of our supported browsers when accessing the site, for the best experience and full functionality.
  • How can a premium member track multiple watchlists? Simple answer – you can’t. We only have one watchlist for you to enter with funds. But here’s a trick: create personal portfolios to use like multiple watchlists. You can then view them from your Dashboard, using the drop down selector to move between watchlists – um – I mean portfolios.
  • Why does the composition data not exactly match the fund providers information? You might notice a variance between information on our site and on the ETF provider’s site. They might categorize market cap differently than we do, use a different list of sectors, and use a completely different bond rating system. Since our system uses the real underlying holdings of a fund to drive the composition number, you get a consistent look at fund holdings across the industry. The term ‘Mid-Cap’ may have ten different definitions across the industry, but at ETF Trends it means the same exact thing for every ETF. Doesn’t that make comparisons more valid?
  • I’ve been looking at country data of holdings, and it sometimes it just looks ‘off’. What’s up with that? Of all the data in our database, country information is the one we struggle with the most. On the surface, we track the exchange where an individual stock is traded as primary location, or country. But many stocks trade in multiple locations, often different companies. And many countries headquartered in one country trade primarily on an exchange in another country. If that sounds like a lot of manual work is needed, that’s because it is. Although we’ve made great strides in country information, and now list it on our site – we still have a way to go, and are committed to going there. Stay tuned…
  • How is historical performance calculated?Our data sources have the historical adjusted values for end of day pricing on ETFs. We take this historical number which has been adjusted (changed to accommodate events like splits) and compare it to the current price – the difference is the performance. When comparing in days, like the 5 DAY and 10 DAY numbers we only count days when the markets are open and trading. When comparing in months or years, like the 3 MO or 5 YR numbers we use this same day in the previous month(s) or year(s). If the market was not open, we go back to the first prior date when the market was open and use that day’s end of day adjusted price. Our data provider may adjust historical prices differently than others, we see some small variety in what’s quoted so don’t assume all performance numbers should line up across sources. Stay with a single source when comparing funds and you’ll get a more accurate view of the ETFs performance.
  • Where do the YIELD values come from, and what do they mean?
    Yields from ETFs are distributions that the fund makes to investors. These could come from many sources, for example dividends from the underlying holdings, interest on bonds held, or return of capital. Unlike dividends from a single equity holding, yields from ETFs vary from quarter to quarter so you cannot rely on a steady stream of income in all cases. Yield calculations can be different from source to source, for example only the last quarter’s distribution could be annualized or the full year of trailing distributions could be used. Return of capital could be included or excluded from the calculation. What’s an investor to do? Dig deeper – don’t just look at the single number called ‘YIELD’ and instead look at the distribution history. On our ETF Resume page our charts provide you with the actual distributions. Go to the chart tab, choose ‘customize your chart’ and then click the checkbox next to ‘dividends’ in the Upper Indicators area. Click on the build chart button and the chart will now display small green Ds on the chart when distributions are made. Hover your mouse over one of these small green Ds and the actual value distributed will be displayed. Look at the past dividends with an eye to volatility and period. Are distributions made monthly or quarterly? Are the consistently about the same, or do they vary widely? Is there a pattern – for example once a year there is a large dividend but the other three quarters are small? Then use your new understanding to anticipate what your yields will be in the future for this fund.Our system calculates yields two different ways. For funds with regular distributions we use the most recent distribution annualized, but then adjust looking back for 12 months for irregular distributions and factor that in. For funds without regular distributions we look back 12 months for all distributions for regular interest and dividend income, and use that number to calculate rate.
  • I’m interested in trading ETFs based on the 200 EMA – what membership tools should I consider?We love this question!First, modify the Dashboard columns so you can see 200 Day EMA information on your Watchlists and in your Portfolio holdings. Did you notice we offer the value for 200 EMA, the percentage comparison of the last close to the 200 EMA, and GET THIS: the date this fund last crossed the 200 Day trend line?Then of course you’ll want these columns to show in your personal version of the ETF Analyzer expanded view. All your column choices are saved automatically, so that the next time you visit everything is set up the way you like it. And a favorite: create a criteria set for the Analyzer based on the 200 EMA date crossed, or on the percent comparison, or both! Save and name the criteria sets to use over and over. Filter the funds to show all ETFs under their trend line with the Add Criteria. Then sort the 200 EMA % column so that all the funds close to their trend lines rise to the top. Are you inspired yet?OK, one more: use your personal alerts to set Trend Trigger Alerts on individual funds, and you will receive an email every time the closing price of that fund crosses the trend line.BTW, all the advice above applies to the 50 day EMA data as well, it is just as well represented in our library.

About ETFs

  • What are ETFs? Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are baskets of securities with an underlying index that trade all day on an exchange like a stock.
  • How long have they been around? Since 1993. The first ETF, the SPDRS (SPY), tracked the S&P 500. The strategy of indexing is not new, however. Barclay’s created it in 1971.
  • What are the advantages of ETFs?
    • You always know what you’re buying, because they replicate indexes. The holdings of those indexes are easily available and posted daily.
    • ETFs offer safety in numbers. They have more diversification because they’re a basket of stocks rather than one individual stock.
    • Their performance can be easily tracked.
    • ETFs tend to have lower expenses and fees because they passively track indexes. There are no additional fees to pay to a fund manager. The average fee for a mutual fund is about 1.6%, while for a large-cap growth ETF it’s about 0.15%.
    • They’re tax efficient because investors rarely generate capital gains.
  • Can you suggest any investing strategies? A strategy we recommend is to look for funds that are above their 200-day moving average. There are always areas that are trending up as others are going down. To learn more about this strategy and how to employ it, read our special report on trend following.
  • How do I know it’s time to sell my ETF? No matter what you buy, it’s important to have a stop loss point and remove your emotions. We sell a fund when it falls 8% below its recent high or below its trend line (the 200-day moving average). We discuss this strategy and the logic behind it in more detail here.
  • I sold my ETF. Now what?
    • Treat the newly available cash as “free agent” funds. Just because you sold an ETF doesn’t mean you’re obligated to buy it back when it rebounds.
    • Look for ETFs that are above or rising above their trend lines.
    • Look for ETFs with positive, relative strength. When markets rebound off a low, it’s usually those with the greatest momentum that enjoy sustained uptrends.
  • What are the different types of indexing? Typical indices weight companies according to their stock market valuation, or market capitalization. This value is calculated by multiplying the total number of outstanding shares by the stock’s price. On the other hand, fundamental indexes base stocks on characteristics such as book value, cash flow, sales and/or dividends.
  • What are short ETFs? What do they do? Short ETF are designed to either perform the opposite or double the opposite of an index. If an index goes down, a short ETF will go up. An UltraShort or 2x Inverse ETF will go up twice that.We explain how they work in greater detail here.
  • What is the difference between an ETF and an ETN? Exchange traded notes (ETNs) are distant relatives of the ETF and they come with their own unique issues attached. When you own an ETN, you’re investing in a 30-year debt instrument. They are a promise by the provider to pay the investor the amount reflecting a change in the underlying index.ETNs do have some tracking error, but the difference is that they will never trade below the value of their index. This is part of what the provider offers to the investor. However, there’s no guarantee that they won’t trade above their net asset value (NAV). With ETFs, any tracking error is borne by the investor.

About ETF Trends

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  • How can I contact you? We can be reached via email at [email protected]
  • How do I comment on the blog? Below the post you’d like to comment on, click “Comments.” We do our best to respond to your questions in a timely manner, and we appreciate every comment we get!
  • Where can I see which ETFs are moving above their long-term trend lines? We have an ETF Analyzer, where you can get all kinds of detailed performance information about any fund. If you have suggestions for something you’d like to see in particular, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].
  • Where can I buy Tom Lydon’s books? The ETF Trend Following Playbook and iMoney: Profitable Exchange-Traded Fund Strategies for Every Investor are available in bookstores and at major online book retailers. For more information, visit our book page.