Short-Duration Bond ETFs vs. Money Market Funds

ETF Trends

Money market funds are back in the news after Goldman Sachs (GS), JP Morgan (JPM) and other firms this week said they plan daily disclosure of net asset value for their money funds.

Goldman and JP Morgan “have insisted their new stance on disclosures does not signal a change in their opposition to a floating NAV, a cornerstone of the Financial Stability Oversight Committee’s proposed money market fund reforms,” Ignites.com reports.

More investors are taking a look at short-duration bond ETFs amid talk of reform measures that could take away some of the competitive advantages of money market mutual funds. [Are Short-Duration ETFs the 'Heirs to Money Market Funds?]

Shortly after its debut in November of 2009 we featured MINT (PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Strategy, Expense Ratio 0.35%) in this column, and the fund has come a long way since in a tad greater than three years.

MINT is now the second largest ETF in the space that most database services categorize as “Money Market ETFs” in terms of assets under management, with roughly $2.2 billion currently.

SHV (iShares Barclays Short Treasury Bond, Expense Ratio, 0.15%) remains the leader, with slightly north of $2.6 billion in the fund presently.

MINT continues to grow impressively from an asset standpoint, and average daily trading volume is now north of 239,000 shares, which likely puts it squarely on the radars of institutional managers whom “screen” for ADV amongst other things such as fund AUM.

Other funds in this “Money Market” category include BIL (SPDR Barclays Capital 1-3 Month T-Bill, Expense Ratio, 0.13%), PVI (PowerShares VRDO Tax-Free Weekly Portfolio, 0.25%), GSY (Guggenheim Enhanced Short Duration Bond, Expense Ratio, 0.27%), VRD (SPDR S&P VRDO Municipal Bond, Expense Ratio 0.20%), and the rather new RAVI (FlexShares Ready Access Variable Income, Expense Ratio 0.25%).

The appeal of such funds among institutional portfolio managers is likely as a liquid cash alternative in ETF form, and the potential of earning yields greater than money market mutual funds and/or cash sweeps.

Of course there are no guarantees, but each of these funds follows a specific methodology, largely predicated on investing on very liquid, short term high rated “paper,” including corporates, governments and cash equivalents.

Of additional appeal to portfolio managers that are focused on “building” pure ETF portfolios, is the fact that now even “money market like” investments can be made using ETFs.

Thus, ETF “purists”, have likely gravitated toward the usage of such ETFs in place of money market mutual funds which they likely formerly used for decades to fill those allocation sleeves in portfolios.

MINT is undisputably actively managed, but such is the hallmark of the fund provider PIMCO. Currently, according to the fund fact sheet, MINT’s estimated yield to maturity is 0.81% and its SEC 30-Day Yield is 0.68%.

PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Strategy

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For more information on Street One ETF research and ETF trade execution/liquidity services, contact Paul Weisbruch at pweisbruch@streetonefinancial.com.

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