Why Are the All-Stars Scared of Ultrashort ETFs?

When the best stock analysts in our 160,000-member CAPS investing community suddenly close their outperform picks, it generally means that they sense something bad happening in that industry, which may signal a good opportunity to think about shorting. But that analysis doesn't work when the stocks the All-Stars flee are all ultrashort ETFs.

What's an ultrashort ETF?
Short ETFs are specially hedged investment vehicles that attempt to mimic the results of shorting something, whether it's an industry, an economic region, or the market in general. Ultrashort ETFs are similar, but they use leverage to attempt to magnify their movement -- moving twice the inverse of the S&P, for example. While these ETFs can present numerous problems for individual investors, they can be a valuable way to hedge a portfolio, or, for stock analysts in the CAPS community, a great way to grab gains in a general bear market.

What does this loss of confidence mean?
As I mentioned before, when CAPS members end a large number of outperform picks, it means that the community has doubts about the future performance of that sector. Ending an outperform on an ultrashort, though, may be an indication that the community is becoming more bullish on the market in general. A look at the big movers seems to suggest that this bullish sentiment isn't restricted to one market, either.

Company Name

Percent Change in All-Star Outperform Picks

UltraPro Short QQQ (Nasdaq: SQQQ  ) (53%)
ProShares UltraShort Consumer Goods Fund (NYSE: SZK  ) (46%)
ProShares Short Russell 2000 (NYSE: RWM  ) (41%)
ProShares Short MidCap400 (NYSE: MYY  ) (38%)
UltraShort Semiconductors ProShares (NYSE: SSG  ) (36%)
ProShares UltraShort Russell1000 Growth (NYSE: SFK  ) (36%)
Ultrashort Europe (NYSE: EPV  ) (35%)
ProShares UltraShort Industrials (33%)
UltraShort Russell MidCap Value ProShares (32%)
UltraShort Technology ProShares (30%)
UltraShort Russell2000 Growth ProShares (24%)

Europe, consumer goods, and all sorts of variations on the Russell 2000 -- it seems like this isn't a narrowly focused movement in response to a local change. This is a general retreat from short ETFs across the entire market.

Wait -- where are the ultralong picks?
While the All-Stars are pulling out of ultrashorts, there doesn't seem to be any movement into their sister investment vehicles, the ultralong ETFs. It seems that the best stock pickers are no longer confident that the market will drop, but they're unwilling to bet on a rise, either.

Is the CAPS community right? Are we seeing the end of a bear market, if not the start of a bullish one? Keep your eyes on all of these companies by adding them to My Watchlist, your free and customized hub for the news and numbers on the companies you care about. Just click below to start.

Chris Harris doesn't own shares of any company mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2011, at 8:00 PM, shanelofgren wrote:

    Are you being serious? Compare the chart of SDD and IJR from 02/07/07 until now and you will see why. Any All Stars that have Ultrashorts as outperforms probably won't be All Stars for long.

    Anyone who talks about ultras without spending at least 75% of the time explaining compounding and how it basically guarantees a loss over time is doing uninformed investors a huge disservice.

  • Report this Comment On July 30, 2012, at 9:04 PM, whatsthepoint wrote:

    I agree with the previous commenter. What a stupid post. You are *never* going to see All-Stars "move into" ultralong ETFs en masse. They wouldn't be all-stars if they were that stupid.

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