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Weekly ETF Report: New Rule for ETF Investors: Stop Using Stops

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 Fabian's Weekly ETF Report |  |  Weekly ETF Report  |  Successful ETF Investing 09/11/2015
In This Issue:
  • Video Alert
  • Podcasts
  • New Rule for ETF Investors: Stop Using Stops
  • ETF Talk: Searching Abroad for Brighter Opportunities
  • ‘ETF Success with Doug Fabian’ Goes National!
  • Never Forget
By: Doug Fabian | Editor, Successful ETF Investing | President, Fabian Wealth Strategies
New Rule for ETF Investors: Stop Using Stops
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I am a huge fan of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). In fact, there may be no bigger advocate of these products than me. I love ETFs for multiple reasons, including their transparency, ease of use, low cost and diversity.

It is my view that ETFs are perhaps the best innovation to ever come out of the financial services industry.

However, the recent price action in many ETFs during a period of extreme market stress has prompted very real concerns for investors.

The stress test in question came on Monday, Aug. 24, when the Dow plunged nearly 1,100 points in the first five minutes of trade. The massive imbalance of sell orders vs. buy orders in the market caused the broader-based S&P 500 Index to crater more than 5% in those tumultuous first five minutes.

A scary plunge in the S&P 500 is bad enough, but if that was the only damage ETFs suffered during that brief period, I wouldn’t be too concerned. The real cause for concern was that some ETFs that track the S&P 500 were down nearly 50% in the first five minutes of Aug. 24.

For example, the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV) plunged 26%, which was about 20 percentage points below its fair value. Two other high-profile, “stable,” S&P 500-based funds -- the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG) and the SPDR S&P Dividend (SDY) -- both were down approximately 38% apiece in the first five minutes. The worst offender was the PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility ETF (SPLV), which at one point had plummeted some 46% from its previous session’s close.

The massive imbalance between sell orders and buy orders was in part due to many individual investors who reacted to the early market action by logging on to their online brokerage accounts to put in sell orders “at the market.”

Another key reason that caused these massive price discrepancies was a little-known, and rarely used, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulation called “Rule 48.” Rule 48 permits designated market makers to not tell anyone where things are going to open until they start trading. This lack of transparency takes critical information away from markets, and the “blindness” that ensued allowed so many to sell into the landslide.

Additionally, because ETFs are made up of individual securities, they are subject to circuit-breaker rules in individual stocks. So, if a stock falls 10% it is halted from trading for a short period, usually five to 10 minutes. Once this period passes, the stock is reopened; however, on Aug. 24 the backlog of orders continued to press ETF share prices lower. This in turn caused another 10% circuit breaker to be triggered, hence another security stop.

In some ETFs, this happened three or more times, causing those ETFs to trade down as much as 50% below the actual price of the securities within them.

This is a major problem for the ETF industry, and it is especially a problem for investors who had “market order” stop losses in place. While I think the actual cause of the big declines wasn’t due to a flaw in the ETFs themselves, but rather a case of poor management, bad rules and scared investors running for the exits, the damage was still done.

In light of these events, I have been forced to rethink a principle that I had previously held onto for many years, the principle of always putting in a stop-loss order on any ETF position you enter.

So, from here on I am implementing a new rule for ETF investing, and that is to stop using stop losses.

I will not be using stop-loss orders on ETFs, either personally, or in my newsletter advisory services.

Instead, I am going to use mental stops, or something I call “exit points.”

The way I see it, if we want to navigate the current volatile market landscape, we need to adjust course. We simply cannot do what we have been doing and hope for good results.

By setting your own personal “exit point” on a position, you will know how much you are willing to lose and when you should cut and run.

Of course, you must be more active when monitoring your positions, but the more active you are, the better engaged with your money you’ll be.

If you are an ETF investor who wants a professional team monitoring your invested positions, and making sure you honor your “exit points,” then check out my Successful ETF Investing advisory service today!

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ETF Talk: Searching Abroad for Brighter Opportunities

The next category of ETFs to be covered is international equity funds, and this week’s ETF Talk concerns the second-best-performing ETF in that category during the first half of 2015, the SPDR S&P International Small Cap ETF (GWX).

View the current price, volume, performance and top 10 holdings of GWX at

Note: the top-performing fund in this category for the first six months of 2015 will not be featured, since that ETF, iShares MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Small-Cap Fund (AXJS), no longer exists. iShares recently announced the fund’s closure along with many other funds that had generated relatively little investor interest, leading the company to return investors’ capital to them.

The index underlying the GWX fund we are highlighting in this article includes small-cap stocks based in developed non-U.S. countries, weighted such that the larger-market-cap companies falling in that category are the most highly weighted. Many of these companies are not traded on U.S. exchanges.

This fund did quite well in the first half of the year, posting an 11.75% gain. It holds $753 million in assets managed and also pays out a 0.43% dividend yield. It also was quite unfazed by Q2 2015, which was a weaker time for many of the funds we have examined.

As with the rest of the market, GWX is not performing as well in recent months. When market vital signs are better than they currently are, this fund may rebound.


There are many international small-cap companies to choose from, which has resulted in strong diversification for this fund. Its top 10 holdings currently are allocated only 3.25% of its assets. These holdings include Shochiku Co. Ltd., 0.38%; UNITE Group plc, 0.35%; Nippon Konpo Unyu Soko Co. Ltd., 0.34%; SimCorp A/S, 0.34%; and Wihlborgs Fastigheter AB, 0.33%.

GWX’s sector distribution highlights industrials, 20.18%; financials, 20.06%; and consumer discretionary companies, 17.37%.

If a recently well-performing international fund attracts your inner investor’s attention, the SPDR S&P International Small Cap ETF (GWX) could be a useful tool in your portfolio.

Remember to look for the current price, volume, performance and top 10 holdings of GWX at

If you want my advice about buying and selling specific ETFs, including appropriate stop losses, please consider subscribing to my Successful ETF Investing newsletter.

As always, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an e-mail. You just may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.

The Truth Behind Vanguard’s Warning to Advisors
We recently received a reminder of just how volatile the market can be. The 1,000-point Dow drop was certainly a shocking event, and industry titan Vanguard claims this could be the start of a “lower growth world.” If only that were the case...

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‘ETF Success with Doug Fabian’ Goes National!

Are you a regular listener to my radio show, “ETF Success with Doug Fabian”?

If not, then I hope you soon will be, and here’s your chance.

Today, I am very excited to announce that my weekly radio show is now syndicated nationally throughout the Salem radio network.

The table below shows the station, city and day and time the show will be aired (check your local listing for start dates, as not all stations carry the show yet).
WAFS-AM Business Radio 1190 Atlanta Sundays 6:00 am
WGKA-AM AM 920 The Answer Atlanta Sundays 10:00 am
WHK-AM AM 420 The Answer Cleveland Sundays 6:00 am
WTOH-FM 89.8 FM The Answer Columbus Sundays 5:00 pm
KVCE-AM AM 1160 The Business Authority Dallas Sundays 2:00 pm
WDTK-AM News Talk 1400 Detroit Sundays 8:00 am
KGU-AM AM 760 Business Radio Honolulu Wednesdays 2:00 pm
KNTH-AM AM 1070 The Answer Houston Weekdays 9:00 pm
KHTE-FM 96.5 FM The Answer Little Rock Saturdays 8:00 am
WGTK-AM AM 970 The Answer Louisville Saturdays 7:00 am
WZAB-AM AM 880 Business Radio Miami Sundays 2:00 pm
KYCR-AM AM 1570 Business Radio Minneapolis Sundays 6:00 am
WNYM-AM AM 970 The Answer New York Sundays 4:00 pm
WBZW-AM AM 1520 Business Radio Orlando Saturdays 8:00 am
WNTP-AM News Talk 990 AM Philadelphia Sundays 9:00 am
KKNT-AM 960 AM The Patriot Phoenix Saturdays 5:00 am
WPGP-AM AM 1250 The Answer Pittsburgh Saturdays and Sundays 5:00 pm
KSAC-FM Money 105.5 FM Sacramento Saturdays 9:00 am
KLUP-AM AM 930 The Answer San Antonio Saturdays 6:00 pm
KCBQ-AM AM 1170 The Answer San Diego Sundays 3:00 pm
KDOW-AM AM 1220 Business Radio San Francisco Sundays 8:00 am
KKOL-AM AM 1300 Business Radio Seattle Wednesdays 3:00 pm
KLFE-AM AM 1590 The Answer Seattle Saturdays 1:00 pm
WGUL-AM AM 860 The Answer Tampa Saturdays 5:00 pm
WWRC-AM AM 1260 The Answer Wash. DC Sundays 4:00 pm
The syndication of “ETF Success with Doug Fabian” is something I’ve been looking forward to for some time, and it’s a dream come true for me.

I hope you’ll join me in living this dream each week, on the station, day and time near you.

Never Forget

“The worst terrorist attack in American history also brought out the best in our country... We are United as Americans.”

-- President Barack Obama

It’s the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I still get riled up thinking about that day, and I’m glad I do. I think more Americans need to be reminded of how they felt that day, because the more we feel the pain of those memories, the better we can combat the threat going forward.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote you’d like me to share with your fellow Weekly ETF Report readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my audio podcast, newsletters, seminars or anything else. Ask Doug.

In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my e-letter column from last week on Eagle Daily Investor about how the market's recent moves make it more like 2011 than 2014. I also invite you to comment in the space provided below my Eagle Daily Investor commentary.

All the best,
Doug Fabian
Doug Fabian
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