By Trevor Hunnicutt
NEW YORK (Reuters) - BlackRock Inc has profited by being beating its competitors in exchange-traded funds to the punch, but Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink seems happy to be out of step with at least one trend - the race to build a bitcoin fund.
The world's largest asset manager on Friday reported earnings that beat Wall Street expectations, due in no small part to aggressive investments in ETFs that track all sorts of financial markets. Investors are flocking to the relatively low-cost investments.
But when asked about a recent proposal by a competitor to build a "leveraged" ETF that would rise - or fall - twice as fast as the price of bitcoin on a given day, Fink was dismissive.
"Those are not the kinds of products we would introduce at BlackRock," Fink told Reuters.
"Our actions will speak louder than our words."
The comments come as a host of BlackRock's smaller rivals in the ETF space position themselves for they hope is a gold rush to capitalize after bitcoin's 1,500 percent surge last year.
Among the proposals, Direxion Asset Management LLC is hoping to list a leveraged bitcoin ETF on Intercontinental Exchange Inc's NYSE Arca exchange that is intended to double the price moves of the digital asset on a given day, according to filings last week.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been reluctant to let bitcoin funds come to market, with the regulatory agency asking tough questions about the stability of the market for the digital asset and pushing some issuers to withdraw their proposed funds.
For his part, Fink has told Reuters that bitcoin is a "speculative" investment that thrives because of its anonymous nature and he puzzled over "why it has so much fascination for the press."
In 2014, Fink shocked some in the ETF business when he said that leveraged ETFs' structural problems had the potential to "blow up the whole industry one day."
Leveraged ETFs are designed to deliver 1.5 or more times a given market index on a day, but they can vary significantly over longer periods. Brokerage firms have been penalized for selling leveraged ETFs to investors for whom they were not suitable.
BlackRock and Vanguard Group dominate ETF inflows. Last year, BlackRock's iShares ETFs attracted $245 billion in cash, while Vanguard pulled in $147 billion, according to the companies.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Jennifer Ablan and Jeffrey Benkoe)