With equity market volatility remaining low, some investors may be inclined to take on more risk. Still, low volatility strategies remain among the most popular smart beta methodologies and some volatility-reducing ETFs have recently been generating solid returns.
That includes the VictoryShares US 500 Volatility Wtd ETF (NasdaqGM: CFA), which is up nearly 12% year-to-date and currently resides new record highs.
While low-vol ETFs may only hold companies that tend to exhibit smaller swings using the factor as a selection, the VictoryShares suite starts with the broad market and screens for companies with four quarters of positive earnings. Those stocks are then weighted based on their standard deviation over the past 180 trading days. Stocks with lower volatility are given higher weightings and stocks with greater volatility are given lower weightings. Ultimately, all securities that pass the earnings criteria are present, just at different weights.
CFA, which is more than three years old, tracks the CEMP US Large Cap 500 Volatility Weighted Index. CFA’s stablemates include the VictoryShares US 500 Enhanced Volatility Wtd ETF (CFO), and the VictoryShares US EQ Income Enhanced Volatility Wtd ETF (CDC). All three have been impressive performers over the past three years.
CFA and CFO ranked in the top 10% of 1,233 qualified Large Blend funds over three years as of July 31, 2017, while CDC ranked in the top 1% of the 1,100 qualified Large Value funds for that same period.
CFA offers a different approach to U.S. broad market exposure. Investors embracing cap-weighted S&P 500 ETFs are not always getting the diversity they think they are. For example, the 50 largest S&P 500 stocks account for about half the index’s weight. This year, the index’s top 10 holdings account for about a third of its performance.
CFA has a weighted average market value of $45.8 billion compared to $180.5 billion on the S&P 500, according to VictoryShares data. CFA also sports superior earnings growth metrics compared to the S&P 500.
The VictoryShares ETF is overweight the consumer discretionary, financial services and industrial sectors relative to the S&P 500 while being underweight technology and healthcare. At the end of the second quarter, CFA’s holdings ranged in weights from 0.08% to 0.38%.
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