HOLDRS first arrived on the scene in September 1999, with Internet HOLDRS (HHH) becoming the 31st ETF listed for trading on a U.S. stock exchange. Merrill Lynch, the sponsor, now acknowledges the antiquated structure of HOLDRS, and all seventeen products will be terminated this week. The closures are taking place in two waves. Six will see their last day of trading today (12/20/2011), and eleven will have Friday (12/23/2011) as their final day of trading.

The six funds being delisted after today’s close are:

  1. Biotech HOLDRS (BBH)
  2. Oil Service HOLDRS (OIH)
  3. Pharmaceutical HOLDRS (PPH)
  4. Regional Bank HOLDRS (RKH)
  5. Semiconductor HOLDRS (SMH)
  6. Retail HOLDRS (RTH)

These ticker symbols will still be in use tomorrow (12/21/2011), but they will refer to different funds. At that time, six new ETFs from Van Eck will begin trading.

  1. Market Vectors Biotech ETF (BBH)
  2. Market Vectors Oil Service ETF (OIH)
  3. Market Vectors Pharmaceutical ETF (PPH)
  4. Market Vectors Bank and Brokerage ETF (RKH)
  5. Market Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH)
  6. Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH)

Owners of these six HOLDRS products were given the opportunity to exchange their shares into the new similar Market Vector ETFs from Van Eck. However, that offer expired earlier today.

If you did not take advantage of the exchange offer, then today is the last day you can sell these on the open market. Once they are delisted, your options become very limited. Refer to the HOLDRS section of the Van Eck website for additional details.

The eleven other HOLDRS will be listed for a few more days with the last day of trading set for Friday (12/23/2011). They are:

  1. B2B Internet HOLDRS (BHH)
  2. Broadband HOLDRS (BDH)
  3. Europe 2001 HOLDRS (EKH)
  4. Internet HOLDRS (HHH)
  5. Internet Architecture HOLDRS (IAH)
  6. Internet Infrastructure HOLDRS (IIH)
  7. Market 2000+ HOLDRS (MKH)
  8. Software HOLDRS (SWH)
  9. Telecom HOLDRS (TTH)
  10. Wireless HOLDRS (WMH)
  11. Utilities HOLDRS (UTH)

I would advise all shareholders to dispose of their holdings prior to the delistings, and be sure to use a limit order.

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.