As of today (May 19, 2015), 500 ETFs and ETNs have closed, delisted, and are no longer with us. 500 deaths is a major milestone for the ETF industry. Although it may not be a welcome and celebrated milestone, it is healthy and necessary for the industry to move forward.
To put this number in perspective, a grand total of 2,207 ETFs and ETNs have been listed on US exchanges. The 500 closures represents a 22.7% mortality rate. Those aren’t exactly great odds, but it could be worse. Of the 1,712 products still remaining and listed for trading today, a full 315 are on the May ETF Deathwatch list. Another 113 were introduced in the last six months and are not included in the Deathwatch statistics.
Yesterday (5/18/15) was the last day of trading for the five Deutsche X-trackers Target Date ETFs. Launched in 2007, and originally under the xShares/TD America brand, these five funds had assets totaling more than $135 million when the closures were announced. This $27-million average is higher than the assets of 548 other ETFs and ETNs still trading today. Along with the massive closure of 18 iShares ETFs last October, Duetsche Bank (DB) and BlackRock (BLK) are redefining what it takes to survive in the ETF space.
Breaking down the launches and closures by ETFs and ETNs reveals that life is only slightly more difficult for ETNs. Of the 2,207 product launches, 1,929 have been ETFs and 278 have been ETNs. Meanwhile, the 500 closures consist of 430 ETFs and 70 ETNs. So far, ETF survivability has been 77.7% and ETN survivability comes in at 74.8%.
Disclosure covering writer: No positions in any of the securities mentioned. No positions in any of the companies or ETF sponsors mentioned. No income, revenue, or other compensation (either directly or indirectly) received from, or on behalf of, any of the companies or ETF sponsors mentioned.