New Calamos ETF has a Hidden Benefit

ETF Trends

The Calamos Focus Growth ETF (CFGE) , the first actively managed exchange traded fund from Calamos Investments, is the ETF offshoot of the firm’s Calamos Focus Growth Mutual Fund (CBCAX).

CFGE utilizes the same process, philosophy and management team as it mutual fund equivalent. Like its mutual fund forefather, CFGE focuses on highly liquid, large-cap growth stocks, an approach that has helped the mutual fund easily thump the S&P 500 and Russell 1000 over the past year. [Calamos Makes a Splash in Active ETF Space]

So it is fair to say CFGE is several things, but the new ETF is certainly not a dedicated buyback ETF. That does not mean CFGE is not exposed to the buyback theme. In an interview with the Daisy Maxey of the Wall Street Journal, Calamos Chief Investment Officer Gary Black said, “We believe that share repurchase activity by CEOs and CFOs, who are closer to the fundamentals of their businesses than anyone, is a good indicator of a stock’s future direction.”

“For the 12 months ending March 2014, S&P 500 issues increased their buyback expenditures by 29.0% to $534.9 billion from the $414.6 billion posted during the corresponding twelve month period in 2013. The twelve month high mark was reached in fiscal year 2007, when companies spent $589.1 billion. The twelve-month recession low point was $137.6 billion, recorded in fiscal year 2009,” according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Obviously, CFGE was not around during that period, but in a testament to the Calamos methodology that includes a focus on reasonably growth stocks and a prudent use of capital by management, Apple (AAPL) is by far CFGE’s largest holding. The iPad maker accounts for 8.64% of the ETF’s weight, an advantage of 215 basis points over Google (GOOG), according to Calamos data.

Apple was the largest share repurchase among S&P 500 stocks in the first quarter, but CFGE’s exposure to big companies engaged in substantial stock buybacks does not end with Apple. [Apple Leads Buybacks as ETFs Respond]

Schlumberger (SLB) and MasterCard (MA) combine for about 6% of CFGE’s weight. Last year, the oil services giant announced a $10 billion buyback while MasterCard said in late 2013 it will repurchase $3.5 billion of its shares.

CFGE holds 34 stocks, seven of which hail from the technology sector and another five of which are industrials. Those were the only two sectors to reach record spending on buybacks in the first quarter.

CFGE Top-10 Holdings

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Table Courtesy: Calamos Investments