Prior to January 4, ETNs (exchange-traded notes) were the only way to get exposure to VIX volatility futures via an exchange-traded product (ETP). Now, ProShares provides access in the more desirable ETF format with ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures (VIXY) and ProShares VIX Mid-Term Futures (VIXM) ETFs.
ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (VIXY) will attempt to match (less the 0.85% expense ratio) the performance of the S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Index, which targets a constant, weighted-average term of one month. VIXY overview page.
ProShares VIX Mid-Term Futures ETF (VIXM) will attempt to match (less the 0.85% expense ratio) the performance of the S&P 500 VIX Mid-Term Futures Index, which targets a constant, weighted-average term of five months. VIXM overview page.
The press release of 1/4/11 and the website both make note that these ETFs are not investment companies regulated under the Investment Company Act of 1940. One implication of this, as explained in the prospectus, is that the funds are expected to be treated as partnerships. Therefore, these funds may have tax implications that some investors do not favor, such as generating a K-1 tax form instead of reporting distribution income via a 1099.
Additional information is located in VIXY and VIXM are the first new ETPs of 2011 and join a fast-growing lineup of volatility related products. As previously mentioned, all the prior releases were ETNs instead of ETFs. Other sponsors include Barclays iPath, VelocityShares, Citigroup C-Tracks, and UBS E-TRACS.
Disclosure covering writer, editor, and publisher: 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.