Bull Market Makes Short Work of Noble’s NOPE ETF

Bull Market Makes Short Work of Noble’s NOPE ETF

The closure of the Noble Absolute Return ETF sends contrarian George Noble back to the drawing board.

Wealth Management Editor
Reviewed by: Lisa Barr
Edited by: Sean Allocca

Give George Noble, the portfolio manager behind the Noble Absolute Return ETF (NOPE), credit for trying to lure investors in a contrarian direction. But after less than a year, the transparent, actively managed strategy that bet against market momentum, is heading to the scrap yard. 

The fund is shuttering with less than $19 million in assets and a 68% decline since the start of 2023 after launching Sept. 29 of last year as the lone product from Nobel-Impact Capital. 

Aggressive right out of the gate with a string of short positions in Tesla Inc. and the ARK Innovation Fund (ARKK), the fund then levered long the ProShares Nasdaq-100 Dorsey Wright Momentum ETF (QQQA)

The strategy showed early promise during the volatility of late last year, logging a 30% increase in the abbreviated 2022 run, including a trough-to-peak gain of 67% to the ultimate peak at the end of December.  

NOPE ETF Shuts Down 

The fund, which will cease trading on Aug. 24 and liquidate on Aug. 30, ultimately ran into headwinds in the form of a bull market and stiff competition. 

“There were some nice runs last year because the market was so bad, but this thing needed more than just one bad year,” said Eric Balchunas, ETF analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. 

Balchunas, who gives Noble credit for “sticking his neck out and putting the pedal to the metal,” said NOPE didn’t have much of a chance against the “giant big dog” ProShares UltraPro Short QQQ (SQQQ)

The $4.3 billion SQQQ is a passively managed strategy for tactical traders and has an expense ratio of 0.95%, which compares to 1.82% for NOPE, which Balchunas describes as “a person picking stuff to short.” 

Noble, who did not respond to a request for comment, took a few shots on social media when news of the fund’s closing was made public. 

Balchunas attributes some of the negative comments to the fact Noble was going against the grain by actively betting on a bear market and speaking his mind about overvalued markets and irresponsible monetary policies. 

“George Noble was very vocal, and he clearly built up some critics,” Balchunas said. “I would never invest in it, because I’m an optimist and a long-term investor, but what he did takes guts. He had a clear thesis; it just didn’t work out.” 


Contact Jeff Benjamin at [email protected] 

Jeff Benjamin is the wealth management editor at etf.com, responsible for coverage related to the financial planning industry. This includes writing, hosting podcasts, webinars, video interviews and presenting at in-person events.

Jeff is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years’ experience covering the financial markets. He has won more than two dozen national and regional awards for his reporting. He most recently worked as a senior columnist at InvestmentNews where he wrote about investment products and strategies, as well as the broader financial planning industry. Prior to that, Jeff worked as an analyst at Cerulli Associates where he researched and wrote reports on the alternative investments industry. Jeff also worked as a money management reporter at Dow Jones Newswires, where he covered the mutual fund industry.

Based in North Carolina, Jeff is a former Marine and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Central Michigan University.