Direxion 3x Leveraged ETFs Go International

December 17, 2008

The latest launch boosts the number of Direxion Shares leveraged ETFs to 16 currently on the market.


A little more than a month after launching the most highly leveraged exchange-traded funds yet, Direxion Shares is moving to expand its lineup to cover international and U.S. technology markets.

The Boston-based asset manager Wednesday launched six new ETFs aiming at providing 300% daily returns of three different benchmarks. Broad foreign stocks make up two of the Morgan Stanley Capital International indexes while the other tracks a Russell index of U.S. technology names. Each comes with 3X bull and 3X bear counterparts.

"What we've done now is essentially enter foreign markets using MSCI indexes," said Andy O'Rourke, Direxion's marketing director.

The launches represent 16 leveraged ETFs now on the market by Direxion Shares. All offer 3X exposure to their indexes. Half take short positions and aim to provide -300% returns on a daily basis while the other eight take 300% long positions.

The Direxion ETFs are the first to offer ETF investors such leverage. And they've proven to be immensely popular since first coming out on Nov. 5-6. Since that time, the asset management firm had attracted $850 million in assets through Monday for its initial eight ETFs. It has another $1 billion in assets under management from a series of 21 mutual funds, most of which are leveraged. (See related story here.)

In November, just four ETF companies had greater net inflows than Direxion Shares. "On the mutual fund side, we saw light inflows in the past month," said O'Rourke. "But in ETFs, our activity has definitely been a lot stronger."

The initial eight ETFs were focused on U.S.-based Russell indexes. "The six new Direxion ETFs are split between three new indexes, with funds on both the bear and bull sides," said O'Rourke. "This should provide more alternatives for investors to use leverage across a broader spectrum of the global marketplace."

The new foreign focused ETFs are:

  • The Direxion Developed Markets Bull 3x Shares (NYSE: DZK) and the Direxion Developed Markets Bear (NYSE: DPK) ETFs seek to provide 3x exposure to the MSCI EAFE Index.
  • The Direxion Emerging Markets Bull 3x Shares (NYSE: EDC) and the Direxion Emerging Markets Bear 3x Shares (NYSE: EDZ) will do the same with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

But the launch also opens another new corner of the market for Direxion—technology. A pair of ETFs included in Wednesday's launch seek 3X exposure to the Russell 1000 Technology Index. The two new U.S.-focused tech portfolios are the Direxion Technology Bull 3x Shares (NYSE: TYH) and the Direxion Technology Bear 3x Shares (NYSE: TYP).

TYH and TYP expand Direxion's more niche-oriented sector ETF lineup. Previously, the firm sponsored leveraged portfolios targeting financials and energy segments.

The six newest leveraged ETFs launched on Wednesday are expected to wind up with net expense ratios of 0.95% annually.

But even with the six new ETFs, Direxion has tapped less than half its pipeline. In its initial filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in May, the company filed to launch 36 new ETFs. Those include foreign leveraged offerings focusing on China, India, Japan and Latin America. Domestically, homebuilders and real estate were also listed as being in the works. (See related story here.)

"It's likely, although not definite, that we'll be coming out with more before the end of the first quarter of 2009," said O'Rourke. "We're optimistic about the leveraged ETF space in general. So if we find other indexes and sectors that present interesting opportunities, we'll certainly explore them in the future."


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