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Dynamic ETF Uses Buy-Write Strategy for S&P 500

This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

As the number of exchanged-traded funds begin to saturate the capital markets, it's important for firms to offer ETF solutions that differentiate themselves to capture market share. One such ETF is the  Invesco S&P 500 Buy-Write ETF (PBP) , which eponymously incorporates a buy-write strategy that tracks the CBOE S&P 500 BuyWrite IndexSM.

The buy-write strategy incorporated by PBP consists of an option strategy that features a purchase of securities comprised within the underlying index in conjunction with the sale of an at the money index option--in general, known as call options. The call options mitigate risk by offsetting the downside an investor can experience when owning equities through the premium of the option.

The  primary objective of the buy-write strategy is to produce income through the premium earned when the option contracts offered are retained if the options are not exercised.  In times of volatility, the propensity for the options to go unexercised are low, but during times of economic doldrums when markets are stagnating, unexercised options are more prevalent.

"The strategy does benefit from a sideways market," vice president and portfolio manager of Invesco's S&P 500 Downside Hedged Portfolio Ted Samulowitz told ETF Trends, referring to PBP's strategic use in a range-bound market where investors can cushion themselves during moderate market downturns or use the ETF to supplant riskier high-yield fixed income investments.

The risk to the investor heightens if the price of the securities that comprise the index increases, thereby placing the options into the money--the chances that the options are called are higher, leaving the writer of the options with the premium and possibly more. Should the value of the index option decline, the call premium realized will help shield any losses.

"It (the option premium) adds a buffer to the downside, but it's usually over time," said Samulowitz.

PBP has generated total year-to-date returns of 3.69% year-to-date with over $342 million in assets under management, including an average trading volume of over 112,000.

Additional Income-Producing Benefits

Another benefit derived from PBP is the dividends realized from the securities comprising the index. It adds a second stream of income in addition to the option premiums for PBP--something investors should take note of if they're only looking at the returns by themselves.

"We re-invest the dividends as far as the equity dividends we take in as well as the option premium we take in," said Samulowitz. "We'll re-invest that back into the fund and then the fund has redistributions on a quarterly basis with long-term capital gains being paid out in December."

2018 Second Half Strategy

The trade wars, primarily between the United States and China, have been roiling the markets the past month, but PBP has managed to eke out a 2.2% return. As far as the second half of 2018 is concerned, PBP could stand to benefit if the hawkishness exhibited by the Federal Reserve continues irrespective of the next tariff move U.S. President Donald Trump's administration decides to impose.

"The economic data has been really solid so I don't have a fear of a sharp drop--something beyond 10%," said Samulowitz. "Thanks to the president, we're getting good sound bites with the trade war and creating volatility so it's going to keep volatility elevated and it tends to slow down rallies that we have in the equities market so it allows us to capture more premium than we have in the past."

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