Investment Research

Putting the Spotlight on Defenders

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Nov 11, 2018

Key Takeaways Recent market volatility has encouraged investors to position portfolios more defensively ETF Securities has a selection of products more suited to a defensive strategy ZYUS gives a low volatility approach to the US market CORE gives exposure to the historically more stable infrastructure sector GOLD provides the best-known hedge against equity market downturn and political instability Introduction Investors have battened down the hatches over the past weeks as waves of volatility have dominated the market. Maybe the market calms down and equities resurge, but now, is clear, that late cycle volatility is here and will probably become more violent at each episode. The recent equity sell-off has heightened uncertainty, with consumer sentiment nicely described by the CNN ‘Fear and Greed Index’ that looks to characterise the primary emotion driving the market (see below). Right now, this index sits at 11, or ‘extreme fear’. Why? The consensus among investors appears to be that we’re in the ‘late stage’ of the investment cycle. Wall St’s thundering run has lasted a decade – the longest ever. And the market has become increasingly wary because of that. We have seen a very large sell-off in technology sector stocks with the Nasdaq, which is often taken as a proxy for US tech, recording its worst month since 2012. This suggests that some are losing faith in the continued performance of our recent equity stars (otherwise known as team FAANG). Adding fuel to the fire, the world has been curiously watching on as China and the US continue their game of trade policy tag. As the reverberations of any decisions by these heavyweights are felt by all, this tension is creating a difficult environment for investors. Playing Defence Though we are all familiar with the old adage ‘past performance is not an indicator of future performance’, it is sometimes helpful to look back at how previous storms have been weathered. The traditional market response to a late cycle downturn can generally be characterised by a move away from higher risk equities such as technology or emerging markets, greater focus on essential sectors such as healthcare, utilities and energy, and a general movement away from equities and into cash, short-term fixed income and commodities. As the bull market nears the close of its tenth year many are considering if now is the time to reposition portfolios towards ‘defensive’ assets. So, what are the options for investors looking to rearrange their holdings into a more defensive position? ** Gold is not considered in the risk illustration for two reasons. First, there is no counterparty risk with gold whatsoever (with cash there is still sovereign risk). Second, gold has historically had low correlations with equities, so its risk characteristics work differently. Defensive Equity Solutions America If you take a glance at global headlines, the US right now may seem a difficult market to play, with high levels of uncertainty around international policy and tariffs. However, as the world’s dominant economy, many would wish to maintain some sort of equity exposure but with a defensive tilt and an eye on capital preservation as much as growth. The ETFS S&P 500 High Yield Low Volatility ETF (ZYUS) is one option that is designed to achieve this. As suggested by the name, this ETF has a low volatility filter built into its index construction. The underlying assumption is that companies that don’t exhibit aggressive price movements are less likely to be sold down heavily in a general market sell off. Specifically, the index universe (the S&P 500) is ordered to select the 75 highest yielding stocks and then the 50 least volatile of those 75 are selected creating a high dividend paying, relatively low risk portfolio based on the trailing twelve months of price data. With reference to the chart above it is clear to see that, since the VIX jumped in October, IVV has lost approximately 10% whereas ZYUS has only lost 4%. Part of the reason for this is because ZYUS has a 16% greater exposure to utilities (historically low in volatility) whilst a 17% less to information technology (historically high in volatility) (as at 30th August 2018, source: S&P). Infrastructure Another strategy investors may consider in times of heightened volatility is increasing the allocation to sectors that have historically had greater stability. One such area known for this is infrastructure. The source of this stability can be explained by looking at the industries that fall into this sector: utilities, telecoms, industrials and transport. These industries typically have high capital costs, low elasticity of demand, long business timelines and often exist as regulated oligopolies or monopolies. Their capital-intensive nature means that they are very difficult and, in some cases, like energy distribution networks, nigh impossible to disrupt. This can mean that these sectors have lower risk (as measured by standard deviation of returns) than other sectors, such as technology or real estate. The table below illustrates the substantially lower volatility of infrastructure against these sectors.

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Global Infrastructure: Designed for Retirees

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Oct 07, 2018

Key Takeaways: • Infrastructure assets are considered by many advisers as ideal for retirees • CORE gives a cost effective, diversified and international exposure to this sector • CORE has outperformed many active funds over the past year, debunking the myth that active is always best in this sector

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Platinum – The night is darkest before the dawn?

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Sep 03, 2018

ETFS Trade Idea: Platinum – The night is darkest before the dawn? High level summary: Platinum, one of the rarest precious metals, could correct upwards in H2 2018 to $900 an ounce This is because the platinum supply deficit is being exacerbated by today’s low prices South African politics – most platinum is mined in South Africa – has scared away mining investment, which also threatens supply Demand for platinum in auto catalysts, the mainstay of the metal’s demand, has been increasing. How to Invest: o ETFS Physical Platinum (ETPMPT) is the only pure listed exposure to platinum in Australia o MER: 0.49% p.a In this week’s ETFS Trade idea, we look at platinum, the rarest of the precious metals, whose price has been trending downwards in recent months. We take a look at whether platinum might be oversold and how fundamentals and macro trends support a near-term price rise. We finish by looking at ways investors can gain exposure to the rare metal. Platinum – Some background Platinum is a very rare metal. It is estimated that all the platinum ever produced would only go ankle-height in an Olympic sized swimming pool. (World Platinum Investment Council, 2018) South Africa produces 73% of the world’s platinum and has the overwhelming majority of proven reserves. Within South Africa itself, two companies – Anglo American (Amplats) and Impala – produces almost half of supply. (Thomson Reuters, 2018) Platinum’s unique chemical properties make it a choice element in industry. Industrial uses include electrics, medical equipment and, most importantly, catalytic converters in diesel cars, buses and trucks. Platinum is also a popular metal in jewellery due to its resistance to warping. A weak performance in 2018 Platinum has performed poorly in 2018, with its spot price sinking from a January peak of $1,016 per ounce to $790 as of mid-August. Year-to-date, platinum has fallen 23%, while gold has fallen roughly 10%. Taking a longer-term view, platinum’s spot price seems to have peaked – like gold, with which it correlates quite closely – in 2011 at around $1,855 per ounce. An upward correction seems possible While platinum’s recent performance has disappointed, some well reputed analysts believe it’s possible for prices to hit $900 in various points of H2 2018, for the following reasons: There could be some reversion to the mean in platinum’s parity in gold: at present platinum is only tracking gold on the downside and not the upside. Trends within South Africa itself are likely to support long-term a price hike. These include heightened political risks facing miners and higher utilities costs. Diesel engine production continues to rise in absolute terms, especially given strong demand in Asia. Diesel cars are not “dead” in Europe, as is sometimes implied in the press. Today’s platinum prices in the $790s are below production costs, data suggests. This means that miners will likely cut back on production, which will widen out the already existing supply deficit. We expect that the supply deficit will grow until prices bounce back. Parity with gold likely to be restored For most of its history platinum has traded at a premium to gold (one suspects this owes to platinum being the rarer metal). Yet at present platinum trades at a 33% discount to gold. In the current cycle, platinum has only tracked gold price falls and not its upside, widening the discount. (Gupta, 2018) In our view, some mean reversion in the near term is likely due to supply and demand dynamics (detailed below) but also due to renewed investor interest in response to these dynamics. As platinum correlates with gold, it offers similar portfolio diversification benefits and upside potential. (David Hillier, 2006) For this reason, we expect investor interest to rekindle as prices recover, helping stabilise demand. South African political risk and supply cuts South African politics is likely an additional supply side pressure. Mine nationalisations have been threatened by the Economic Freedom Fighters, (Economic Freedom Fighters, 2018) South Africa’s third-largest party, which is surging in the polls. (Umraw, 2018) South Africa is a one-party state, with the African National Congress ruling since apartheid ended, making an EFF government unlikely. But, as is often the case in politics, the danger lies not so much in the minority party seizing power but in its ability to force mainstream parties to adopt part of its platform. This year, we have already seen President Ramaphosa – under pressure from the EFF – outline proposals to give greater shareholdings to black owners, which would dilute current shareholders. These proposals, thus far, have been successfully challenged by miners in South Africa’s courts. But fears of dilution and government intervention have dried mining investment and slowed production, adding another supply side pressure. (Hodgson, 2018) Outside dilution fears, South African miners have hit a wall of difficulties: community unrest and union disputes over pay; skyrocketing electricity costs; and production disruptions from maintenance and safety stoppages. (Johnson Matthey, 2018) These ongoing difficulties – while not sufficient to drive up prices – are compounding the pressures caused by low platinum prices. In response to these difficulties, the past two years has witnessed industry rationalisation. Lonmin, the third largest platinum miner, sold off much of its platinum assets to another miner. (Sanjeeban Sarkar, 2017) Impala, the second largest platinum miner, shut several platinum mines in March 2018 and has indicated it will fire 13,000 staff over 2018 and 2019. (Miller, 2018) Platinum Group Metals closed a major platinum mine mid-2017 due to it being unprofitable. (Seccombe, 2018) These shaft closures and production cuts, in our view, add to the likelihood of a sharpening platinum supply deficit, which in turn will place upward pressure on pricing. Platinum trading below production costs There is also evidence that platinum prices below $790 an ounce, as they are at present, are unsustainable as they fall below production costs. By general consensus, the all-in sustainability cost (AISC) to pull an ounce of platinum out of a South African mine is above $900 an ounce. (Thomson Reuters, 2018) A recent report from Anglo American – the world’s largest and South Africa’s most efficient platinum miner – said that its AISC was $955 an ounce in 2017. (Anglo American Platinum, 2017) Production costs in North America and Zimbabwe where platinum is also mined – albeit in significantly smaller quantities – are estimated to be similar. (Statista, 2016) Only in Russia, which is currently under strict US and EU trade sanctions, is platinum trading at below AISC. Russia produces platinum in too small a quantity to alter the world average. Historically, commodities can and have traded below their AISC or marginal costs. But a situation where platinum is trading significantly below production costs – as it appears to be at present – will incentivise supply cuts and add upward pressure on prices. Demand Diesel cars and trucks are not dead The most crucial pocket of demand for platinum comes from car catalysts in diesel engines in developed economies, especially Europe. Yet diesel cars are losing market share, thanks largely to the Volkswagen scandal of 2015. According to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), the European car industry lobby, in H1 2017 sales of gasoline powered cars in Europe overtook diesel for the first time since 2009. (ACEA, 2018) This trend has been taken by some commentators as signalling the “death of diesel”. (Topham, 2018) In our view, diesel cars will likely continue to lose market share in developed economies, but warnings of “dead” diesel seem overblown. In its GFMS Platinum Group Metals Survey 2018, the most comprehensive survey of its kind, Thomson Reuters noted that platinum use in diesel catalysts rose 7.1% in 2017 thanks to strong demand from Asia offsetting declining demand in Europe. (Thomson Reuters, 2018) While in decline in Europe, European diesel cars still have a lot of “dying” left to do. According to the same numbers from the ACEA, diesel cars still make up 45% of Western European passenger cars. And although diesel’s market share may be declining, in absolute sales terms the number of diesel cars being sold globally is increasing, suggesting the mainstay of platinum demand is well supported. ETFS Physical Platinum (ETPMPT) – One of a kind For any investors dicing up the opportunity platinum affords, ETFS Physical Platinum ETF (ETPMPT) offers a one-of-a-kind solution. ETPMPT is 100% physically backed by platinum bullion, held in HSBC’s vaults in London. Every bar of platinum meets the London Platinum and Palladium Association's rules for Good Delivery, and every bar is segregated and allocated. As ETPMPT is physically backed there is zero credit risk. And because it can be redeemed for platinum bars, any deviations from platinum’s spot price will be quickly arbitraged out. ETPMPT is the only product of its kind available in Australia and offers a uniquely secure play on platinum. How to invest in physical platinum? ETFS Physical Platinum (ETPMPT) MER: 0.49% p.a. - ETPMPT is the only physically-backed platinum tracking ETF in Australia - As ETPMPT is redeemable for physical bullion, it is anticipated to track to the platinum spot price - ETPMPT trades on the ASX just like shares, meaning it is settled and held in brokerage accounts

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Five reasons to consider an investment in TECH now

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Jul 23, 2018

ETFS Trade idea:  Five reasons to consider an investment in TECH now In this week’s ETFS Trade idea we focus on the ETFS Morningstar Global Technology ETF (TECH) and look at five reasons why you might want to consider an investment in technology in the current market. High level observations: Technology stocks have continued their strong run in 2018Technology firms may be more resilient to a global trade war TECH includes valuation and quality features that may alleviate concerns of some investors Investors considering the technology sector should look at TECH The sector has proven to be robust in changing market conditions over recent years

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US Defensive Equities Starting to Look Well Valued

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Jul 02, 2018

ETFS Trade idea:  US Defensive Equities Starting to Look Well Valued ETFS S&P 500 High Yield Low Volatility ETF ASX Code: ZYUS U.S. market has been high growth since Trump’s election This cycle looks like it may be turning Investors wanting to retain U.S. exposure but remove the high growth/high volatility companies should look at ZYUS In this week’s ETFS Trade idea, we look at opportunities in defensive U.S. equities and show how it may be a good entry point for ZYUS, which under performed the broader market in 2017, but has picked-up in recent months and had standout performance in 2016. ZYUS tracks the S&P 500 Low Volatility High Dividend Index, which selects a portfolio of the lowest volatility stocks from amongst the highest yielding names in the S&P 500. The story in 2017 - defensives appeared to be out of favour For most of 2017 the U.S. economy was in expansionary territory with GDP growth rising above 4%, the S&P 500 returning 22%, volatility remaining persistently low and normalisation of monetary policy accelerating. Information technology stocks dominated, returning 39%, but other traditional growth sectors also outperformed. Materials, consumer discretionary and financials all beat the benchmark. Defensive sectors, which traditionally include utilities, consumer staples, health care and real estate, on the other hand, suffered on two fronts. Firstly, the economic conditions of a growing economy and rising interest rates were not conducive to above-market performance in sectors such as utilities, consumer staples and telecommunications. Secondly, many companies in these sectors had become over-bought and over-valued in the post-crisis scramble for stable returns and yield, where low volatility and equity-yield strategies gained significant popularity. With rates rising and bonds starting to look more attractive, asset allocations shifted causing under-performance in defensives in 2017 and into early 2018. What has happened so far in 2018? 2018-to-date has seen the U.S. move further into expansionary territory, with GDP growth now sitting at 4.7% and the Federal Reserve having raised rates twice so far. However, signs of the expansionary cycle moving into a later phase have started to appear in recent months. Long-term bond yields have stabilised, inflation has picked-up and the S&P 500 has returned only 2.6% year-to-date. In addition, through a combination of geo-political and economic events, volatility has returned, with the VIX peaking at 37.3 in February and averaging 16.3 in 2018 compared to a maximum of 16.0 and an average of 11.1 for the whole of 2017. Defensives are currently looking more attractive on a valuations basis than at any time in recent years. On a relative-PE basis, utilities, consumer staples, telecommunications and health care sectors are all currently trading at lower multiples than the S&P 500. Even if the bull market still has further to run, now could be a good opportunity to re-allocate back towards defensive sectors. While the economy is not yet showing any signs of slowing, if you believe the U.S. is currently in a late-cycle boom, then it may be prudent to prepare for a sell-off in risky-assets. How does ZYUS’s sector allocation look? As can be seen in Chart 1, ZYUS is currently most overweight real estate and utilities along with smaller over-allocations to consumer staples, energy and telecoms. Information technology, health care and financials are the biggest under-weights. Overall, relative to the S&P 500, ZYUS is 34% overweight to the traditional defensive sectors, despite being 10% underweight health care, which is no longer considered to be as defensive as it once was. How has ZYUS performed relative to the S&P 500? In 2017 ZYUS underperformed the S&P 500 by nearly 9.6% as technology stocks accelerated away. This continued into early 2018 with ZYUS under-performing heavily in both January and February as the sell-off in defensives picked-up pace. This contrasts with 2016, where ZYUS outperformed by 8.8% . Monthly performance differentials are shown in Chart 3, below. Since the end of February, however, ZYUS has outperformed in three of the four months and added 4.7% to the S&P 500 on an AUD total return basis. Volatility-wise, on a 90-day historic basis, the spread between the S&P 500 and the S&P 500 Low Volatility High Dividend Index is currently at its lowest since 2012, as shown in Chart 3. Recently the low volatility screening is providing a degree of risk-reduction even in a more concentrated, 50-stock portfolio. On a yield basis, the S&P 500 Low Volatility High Dividend Index is currently yielding 4.3%, which is more than double the yield on the S&P 500 at 1.9%. Lastly, it is worth recalling that, despite the recent under performance, the low volatility/high dividend strategy has outperformed the S&P 500 by over 6% pa since the beginning of 2000, which demonstrates its ability to outperform across cycles. How ZYUS invests ETFS S&P 500 High Yield Low Volatility ETF (ZYUS) follows a rules-based strategy, tracking its benchmark Index, and has the following features: ZYUS captures the performance of a selection of the high yielding companies from the S&P 500 Index and aims to provide stable returns with regular income. ZYUS selects the 50 lowest volatility names from a list of the 75 highest yielding stocks at each rebalance. ZYUS is rebalanced semi-annually in January and July. ZYUS is weighted in proportion to the dividend yield of each constituent, meaning that the stocks with the highest yields receive the highest weightings. ZYUS applies individual stock and sector caps to ensure diversification. ZYUS has an MER of 0.35% p.a. ZYUS has a Recommended rating by Lonsec. Summary While low volatility and defensive sector strategies have underperformed over the past 12 to 18 months, with the U.S. possibly moving towards the latter stages of the current economic cycle, it could be a good time to revisit these strategies. ZYUS provides a generally more defensive sector allocation than the broader market, uses a low-volatility screening and produces a consistently higher yield.

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ETF Volatility - Truths and Misconceptions

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May 31, 2018

ETFSTrade idea:  ETF Volatility - Truths and Misconceptions In this week’s ETFS Trade idea, we look at the misconceptions around ETFs causing volatility and explain why these are myths. High level observations: ETFs have been unfairly targeted as the cause of market volatility ETFs tracking the ASX 200 have successfully stayed in line with the volatility of the benchmark ETFs can cause movements in the underlying market but so do active funds and investors buying securities directly In nearly all cases ETFs match the volatility of the market they track and this is what should be expected from an index tracking fund

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Conflicting signals in the U.S. - Time for caution?

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Apr 22, 2018

ETFSTrade idea – Conflicting signals in the U.S. - Time for caution? ETFS S&P 500 High Yield Low Volatility ETF (ZYUS) ETFS Physical U.S. Dollar ETF (ZUSD) The U.S. economy continues to surprise to the upside with markets rebounding strongly. Yet rising inflation, subdued long-term rates and geo-political risks remain a concern. For a defensive U.S. equity exposure, investors should consider ZYUS. Avoiding equity-risk and looking for currency? Consider ZUSD. In this week’s ETFS Trade idea, we look at the outlook in the U.S. for monetary policy, the economy and the dollar. We highlight two funds that can be used in different ways to play the U.S. story; ZYUS and ZUSD. Rate rises on the horizon… Market expectations for multiple rate rises from the U.S. Federal Reserve in the remainder of 2018 have firmed in recent weeks. The economy is still in expansionary territory, though inflationary concerns are becoming more pertinent. US Core CPI rose to 2.1% in March, its highest level in over a year, while March PPI numbers also exceeded expectations. The Fed Beige Book reported strong economic activity, but showed significant business concerns around Trump’s planned steel and aluminium tariffs. Figure 1 below shows the current probabilities the futures market is implying for Fed activity for the remainder of 2018, with two further hikes narrowly the most likely outcome. ...but longer-term growth concerns are becoming more pronounced. While short-term yields have been rising, the yield curve has seen a substantial flattening, with the difference between 2-year and 10-year Treasury yields at their lowest since late-2007 (see Figure 2). Speculation of a curve inversion is starting to emerge. Historically this would indicate that the peak of the current rate cycle is approaching and present a subdued outlook for growth. U.S. dollar weakness continues… Despite rising short-term rates, the U.S. dollar has been in a steady down-trend since early 2017, as shown in Figure 2. This can be partly attributed to President Trump’s rhetoric regarding trade and towards China, but also to a gradual unwinding of GFC-era flight-to-safety trades. …but political risks could be a catalyst With the impositions of tariffs and a potential trade with China, military action in Syria, sanctions against Russia and talks with North Korea on the horizon and February’s equity market volatility still fresh in the memory, there is no shortage of event risk candidates looming. With external events and any evidence of longer-term U.S. economic strength both likely to have a positive impact on the dollar, it appears that near-term risks may lie to the upside. Why ZYUS? ZYUS invests in U.S. stocks from the S&P 500 screened for both high yield and low volatility. As such, the fund tends to be overweight defensive sectors like utilities and real estate and underweight more volatile sectors like technology and financials. The S&P 500 Low Volatility High Dividend Index, which ZYUS tracks, has outperformed the S&P 500 by over 3.6% per annum over the past 10 years and has outperformed on a monthly-basis in over 70% of months during which the S&P 500 has posted a negative return. After underperforming the S&P 500 by over 9.5% in 2017, mainly due to its underweight to technology, ZYUS has recently picked up. Outperformance in March 2018 was over 3% as volatility hit the tech sector and risk-aversion appeared. ZYUS should be considered by investors wanting to maintain U.S. equity exposure, but take a more cautious view on growth and the landscape ahead. Why ZUSD? Investors looking for pure exposure to the U.S. dollar strengthening against the Australian dollar without taking on any equity risk may consider ZUSD, which tracks the exchange rate by investing in short-term USD deposits. How ZYUS invests ETFS S&P 500 High Yield Low Volatility ETF (ZYUS) is well positioned for investors for the following reasons: ZYUS captures the performance of a selection of 50 high yielding U.S shares selected from the S&P 500 Index and rebalanced twice annually. ZYUS initially screens stocks based on dividend yield, reducing the 500 stocks down to 75. ZYUS then selects the 50 stocks with the lowest volatility for inclusion and weights them according to their dividend yield. ZYUS has an MER of 0.35% p.a. ZYUS has a Recommended rating by Lonsec. How ZUSD invests ETFS Physical U.S. Dollar ETF (ZUSD) is well positioned for investors for the following reasons: ZUSD captures the performance of the U.S. dollar against the Australian dollar, by investing all of its assets in U.S. dollar bank deposits. ZUSD currently holds overnight USD deposits with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ), earning interest at 1.30% p.a. ZUSD has an MER of 0.30% p.a., making it the lowest cost U.S. dollar exposure available on the ASX. ZUSD has a Recommended rating by Lonsec.

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The Aussie yield ETF that challenges active managers

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Apr 09, 2018

ETFS Trade idea – The Aussie yield ETF that challenges active managers ETFS S&P/ASX 300 High Yield Plus ETF (ZYAU) In the wake of S&P Dow Jones Indices recently published SPIVA® report, this week we have taken a look at how our ETFs have fared against active managers over time. This note highlights ZYAU, which has produced strong excess returns since inception and outperformed many well-known active managers. Investors looking for cost-effective excess returns from domestic equities should consider evaluating ZYAU. In this week’s ETFS Trade idea, we look at the results of the SPIVA® Australia Scorecard released by S&P Dow Jones Indices last month and compare the performance of ZYAU to a collection of well-known active funds focused on Australian equity-income. SPVIA® Australia Scorecard 2017 S&P Dow Jones Indices have been publishing SPIVA® Scorecards for major markets since 2002 and have become leading contributors to the active versus passive debate worldwide. The SPIVA® Scorecards track the performance of active fund managers in each market against benchmark indices across a variety of categories and across multiple time horizons. Looking specifically at Australian large-cap equity funds, as at the end of 2017 59% of funds underperformed the S&P/ASX 200 Index. Over 3, 5 and 15 year periods, respectively, 67%, 63% and 77% of funds underperformed the national benchmark. An equally-weighted portfolio of active funds would have underperformed the benchmark over 1, 3, 5, 10 and 15 years. Similarly, in the mid and small-cap categories, 74% and 75% of funds underperformed the S&P/ASX Mid-Small Index over 1 and 3 years. How does ZYAU compare to active funds? ZYAU sits in-between a traditional active fund and a purely passive index tracker in the area commonly termed ‘smart-beta’ or ‘enhanced-alpha’. Smart-beta funds passively track an index, but the index they track has features that differentiate it from a standard market capitalisation-weighted index and aim to outperform a standard index in much the same way that active funds do. In the case of ZYAU, it tracks the S&P/ASX 300 Shareholder Yield Index, which aims to outperform the S&P/ASX 300 benchmark by selecting a sub-set of constituents based on ‘shareholder yield’ – a combined measure of dividend yield and buy-back yield. Because ZYAU’s investment strategy is pre-defined it has several potential advantages over active funds: its strategy is consistent, published and available for investors to evaluate and scrutinise its holdings are published in the public domain on a daily basis because it trades on exchange, investors can trade intra-day, unlike with many active funds because the fund does not require a team of fund managers to continually evaluate its holdings, it can charge management fees more in-line with passive index trackers. ZYAU’s stocks selections tend to be more “active” than many active funds, with its Active Share, or non-overlapping weight, versus the S&P/ASX 200 currently at 80.5%. This means that ZYAU can better compliment a core index holding in a portfolio. Table 2, below, shows comparative performances and headline management fees of ZYAU against a collection of well-known active funds that focus on Australian equity and equity income. Low Cost Firstly, to note, ZYAU’s management fee compares favourably to the active funds, as would be expected. ZYAU charges a fee of 0.35% p.a., which is below all of the active funds profiled and significantly below the average active MER of 0.83% p.a. Consistent Strong Performance With regards to performance, since its inception in June 2015, ZYAU has generated 2.19% p.a. excess return over the S&P/ASX 200, which puts it ahead of 16 of the 17 active funds. Only Bennelong Australian Equities Fund has outperformed, due to a very strong start to 2018. In the calendar year 2017, ZYAU outperformed the S&P/ASX 200 by 0.63% and beat 14 of its 17 active peers. In 2016, ZYAU outperformed 16 of the 17 active funds profiled and produced 5.42% of excess return over the benchmark index. Since inception, ZYAU has delivered strong performance at a fraction of the cost of many of its active peers and should be, therefore, considered by investors looking for cost-effective excess returns. How ZYAU invests ETFS S&P/ASX 300 High Yield Plus ETF (ZYAU) is well positioned for investors for the following reasons: ZYAU captures the performance of a selection of 40 high yielding Australian shares selected from the S&P/ASX 300 Index and rebalanced twice annually. ZYAU initially screens stocks based on liquidity, free cash flow to equity and dividend growth rates. This excludes stocks that are illiquid, are returning more cash to shareholders than they are earning, or have recently cut their dividend payouts. ZYAU then selects the 40 stocks with the highest shareholder yields for inclusion and weights them according to a mix of shareholder yield and market capitalisation. ZYAU has an MER of 0.35% p.a. ZYAU has a Recommended rating by Lonsec.

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Eurozone Outlook for 2018

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Mar 22, 2018

Eurozone Outlook for 2018 Trade idea – ETFS EURO STOXX 50® ETF (ESTX) Economic growth in the eurozone is at the highest level in a decade and the outlook is positive for 2018. ECB stimulus remains intact as inflation remains subdued and the euro continues to strengthen. Political headwinds tapered significantly in 2017, though some hurdles remain on the radar. ESTX provides low cost exposure to the blue-chip eurozone companies driving European growth and offers unhedged upside to a further strengthening euro. In this week’s ETFS Trade idea, we look to the European economic and political outlook for 2018 and highlight potential opportunities as well as some challenges on the horizon. Eurozone economy growing at fastest pace in a decade European data continues to paint a picture of an economy on the up, with positive momentum predicted to carry into 2018. Eurozone GDP grew at a rate of 2.7% in 2017 and the outlook remains positive, with the IMF forecasting growth to remain above 2% for at least the next two years. Moreover, while much of the initial impetus had come from the powerhouses of Germany and France, the periphery has now started to follow suit. Labour markets are looking strong, with unemployment across the region continuing to plummet and wage growth picking up. Despite slipping slightly in February, sentiment remains high, with economic and consumer confidence both at levels last seen in 2001. PMI data remains positive and there are signs that excess capacity is shrinking as economic growth gathers pace. Monetary policy outlook remains stable In the face of an expanding economy, the monetary policy outlook is surprisingly stable. Monetary stimulus in the form of the ECB’s unprecedented asset-buying programme is likely to remain. Inflationary pressures appear subdued, with CPI falling from 1.5% in November to 1.4% in December, well below the ECB’s target level of 2%. The strength of the euro is also aiding the stimulus impact by reducing inflationary pressure from imported goods. In US dollar terms, the euro has appreciated by over 17% since the start of 2017. In historical terms, the currency is currently sitting close to its long-term average level, and many analysts are predicting further appreciation in 2018. Political risks remain on the horizon Political risks, so prominent in the European dialogue over the past decade, took a back seat to the improving economy in the second half of 2017. French, Dutch and German elections took place without major incident as the anti-EU populist threat appeared to dissipate. Italian elections last week saw a move away from the establishment parties. Whilst details on policy directions have yet to emerge, the equity markets in Italy and across Europe have reacted positively this week. Other risk events likely to have a bearing on the shape of Europe this year include the ongoing Brexit negotiations and developments in the Catalan push for independence. How to invest in the eurozone? ETFS EURO STOXX 50 ETF (ESTX) is well positioned for investors for the following reasons: ESTX captures the performance of the 50 largest corporations in the eurozone – all significant global players in their fields. ESTX tracks the world’s most widely traded European benchmark index – the EURO STOXX 50 Index. ESTX is unhedged with respect to currency movements; meaning that investors benefit from a strengthening euro or weakening Australian dollar and vice-versa. No UK companies are included in ESTX, making it somewhat Brexit remote compared to other panEuropean funds. ESTX is the joint lowest cost Europe-focused ETF on the ASX with an MER of 0.35% p.a. ESTX is domiciled in Australia so there are no W8-BEN tax forms for investors to complete and US estate tax is not applicable ESTX has Recommended rating by Lonsec.

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With Volatility Picking up, why Don't you Consider Owning Gold?

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Feb 09, 2018

With volatility picking up, why don’t you consider owning gold? Trade idea – ETFS Physical Gold (GOLD)/ ETFS Physical Singapore Gold ETF (ZGOL) Volatility has returned to the markets Downside risks have increased dramatically Gold has been consistently one of the best portfolio hedges against geopolitical risk and inflation Below we take a further look at why you should be holding gold There are three reasons why you should own gold. 1) Portfolio protection against volatility 2) Inflation hedging 3) Event risk hedging Points 1 and 2 have recently increased from “no concern” or “neutral” in investors’ minds to “serious concerns” so we believe that all advisers and planners should be considering including gold in their client portfolios, as it’s one of the most historically reliable hedges in such circumstances. Gold protects portfolios against negative equity volatility Just last week we had an example of gold performing as an event risk hedge when equity markets plummeted and the gold price surged upwards. On 5th February, we saw global equity markets fall with the S&P 500 down 4.1% and the ASX 200 down 1.6%, meanwhile the gold price was up 0.5% in USD terms as investors were turning risk averse. The year-to-date performance chart on the right highlights the price actions of the day. (Source: Bloomberg, data as of 13th February 2018) Historical performance is not an indication of future performance and any investments may go down in value. Gold against inflation Gold is also widely viewed as a tool against inflation. Historically, the gold price tends to appreciate when inflation and interest rates are on the rise. The chart below shows how the gold price moves largely in-line with the inflation (CPI) of the United States. Event Risk Hedge Lastly, although there have been no significant geopolitical events this year so far, it only takes one to roil the markets. As the table below shows, being in gold in nine out of ten of the events below was a positive when held within an investor portfolio. Summary There are three reasons why investors should own gold and two of them have dramatically spiked in terms of relevance. We believe all advisers should at least consider owning gold through this late economic cycle, where the probability of inflation and volatility is heightened.

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A Look Inside the ROBO Global

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Jan 30, 2018

ETFSTrade idea – A Look Inside the ROBO Global® Index Our world is being transformed as a new wave of innovation, often technology-led, challenges every aspect of how we live and work. In the final article of our Future Present series, we have selected 5 stocks from the ROBO Global® index to showcase how different businesses are riding on this megatrend.     The stock stories inclided are; Novanta - Precision Surgery Yaskawa - Industrial Robotics GEA - Food and Beverage Processing Xilinx - Programmable Chips Koh Young - 3D Inspection

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How the Future Present Range Fits Your Portfolio

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Jan 22, 2018

How the Future Present series fits your portfolio Trade idea – ETF Securities Future Present series i. ETFS Morningstar Global Technology ETF (TECH) ii. ETFS ROBO Global Robotics and Automation ETF (ROBO) Key Takeaways: Technology was the top performing sector in 2017, returning 39% for the calendar year and contributing 25% of the total global equity market return(1). The pace of innovation continues to grow and adoption of new technologies in fields such as robotics and AI is quickly spreading across many industries. Adding funds like TECH and ROBO to an otherwise diversified portfolio offers investors unique opportunities to capture any future growth in this sector, while also reducing overall portfolio risk. (1) Source: Bloomberg data as at 18 January 2017. Information technology companies contributed 5.73% to the total return of 23.06% of the MSCI World Index in 2017. Future Proofing Portfolios Investors looking to future-proof their portfolios in 2018 should consider the opportunities that are presented by investing in new technology and innovation. Fields such as robotics, automation and artificial intelligence (RAII), in particular, are forecast to grow massively in the coming years and impact almost every industry by providing key enabling technologies and new applications for existing technologies. Investments in technology have traditionally been viewed as high return/high risk, however in recent years the established players in the technology world have become highly cash generative and broadly entrenched in our everyday lives. This has given many technology companies defensive, counter-cyclical characteristics that are traditionally more associated with utilities and real estate investments and has changed the way many investors look at the technology sector. ETF Securities Future Present Range The Future Present range of ETFs allows investors to combine well-established technology firms with strong competitive advantages, using TECH, with highly innovative firms from the exciting world of RAII, using ROBO. The below study explores the impact of adding the Future Present range to a simple, diversified ETF portfolio consisting of Australian equities, international equities, fixed income, gold and property. Hypothetical portfolio allocations are detailed in Charts 1 and 2 below: Over the four years of available history, adding a 10% allocation to the Future Present range (5% each to TECH and ROBO), while keeping the allocation to equities constant, not only improves the overall total return by 0.84% per annum, but also reduces the portfolio volatility by 0.95%2. Charts 3 to 6, below, show the risk return characteristics of the two portfolios as well as each of the constituents over 1, 2, 3 and 4 years. Benefits to Your Portfolio Apparent from the four charts below is the strong historical performance of the Future Present ETFs, with the two funds ranking first and second on the basis of returns across all tenors. With regards to volatility or risk, as measured by standard deviation, TECH and ROBO are at the higher end, though not substantially more volatile than either the Australian or international equity ETFs or gold. In all four cases, however, diversification benefits are seen in that adding above average risk investments lowers the overall portfolio risk in all cases, providing investors with better risk/return profiles. This is particularly true for Australian investors with high portfolio allocations to the domestic market, which is very underweight the technology sector. Source: Morningstar Direct as at 31 December 2017. Benchmark index returns are used as a proxy for TECH and ROBO due to insufficient fund history. Returns in AUD. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance. These graphs illustrate the trade-off between risk (standard deviation or volatility around the mean) and reward (expected or average return). The ideal position is within the upper left quadrant of the graphs. Placement here indicates that the portfolio returned more than the risk-free benchmark (typically the yield on high quality government bonds) with lower volatility. The bottom right corner is the least desirable, since this represents highest risk with lowest return

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The Rise and Rise of Technology

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Jan 09, 2018

ETFS Trade idea – The Rise and Rise of Technology Technology driven advances and the pace of innovation are the defining mega trend of our era. Developments in fields such as robotics and automation are changing many industries and are having an impact on the way we work and live. Our Future Present range of exchange traded funds offers simple and intelligent ways to bring your portfolio into the 21st century by capturing growth in companies at the forefront of the technology revolution.  The rise and rise of technology It has become something of a cliché, but technology really is changing the way we live and work. On buses and trains, for example, half of the passengers are likely glued to smartphones or tablets. Technological developments are certainly not confined to telecommunications; in fact, new technologies are heralding enormous changes in a very wide range of industries globally. And, in some cases, technological advances are creating entire new industries whose participants are enjoying stellar growth rates. These powerful trends are interesting from an investment perspective. After all, the premise of equity investing suggests investors allocate capital towards companies that can generate and maintain strong growth rates, which are most likely to generate favourable long-term returns for shareholders. This philosophy is a hallmark of thematic investing, whereby investors seek to benefit from exposure to a particular trend or theme. Thematic funds can be additionally appealing to investors as their performance is often uncorrelated with economic cycles and other forces that drive mainstream equity and bond markets. Accessing pioneering companies with the greatest growth potential can be easier said than done. Small and mid-cap companies at the cutting edge of innovation in emerging industry sectors are typically not well represented in traditional market cap weighted indices. Constituents of the S&P/ASX 200 Index, for example, are more mature large-cap companies, often with more modest growth rates. Accordingly, investors might be missing out on some of the brightest current investment opportunities, even if their portfolio is heavily weighted towards equities. Similarly, investors who focus primarily on the domestic market in Australia are not only missing out on the benefits of international diversification, but are likely to also be overweight sectors such as Financials and Materials. Significantly, they are also likely to be very underweight sectors such as Information Technology and Heath Care, which are major sources of growth and innovation. In recognition of this – and reflecting our desire to offer investors fresh, innovative and value-adding investment options from across the globe – ETF Securities has launched the Future Present range. This range of funds enables investors to access some of the most appealing investment niches currently available, conveniently and cost-effectively through an exchange traded fund (ETF) vehicle. Accessing a new world of investment opportunities The Future Present range has been designed to track the growth of new and innovative sectors that have historically been challenging for investors to access. Investing in the Future Present range of funds enables investors to participate in the growth arising from long-term structural shifts that are underway in various industries. The Future Present range was launched in 2017 with the only ETF in Australia offering exposure to the global technology sector – ETFS Morningstar Global Technology ETF (ASX code: TECH). Technology has been a major source of global growth in recent years. Since 1995, earnings across the technology sector have increased more than 500%, nearly double the wider market. This translates into an annual compounded growth rate of 8.5% per annum compared to 5% for the market. In 2017 technology was clearly the leading performing sector, averaging a total return of close to 40% on a market capitalization-weighted basis(1). In designing TECH, ETF Securities partnered with Morningstar, whose expertise as a leader in equity research provides insight used to identify the leading technology companies across the globe, based on rigorous analysis of the strength and sustainability of their competitive advantages. Furthermore Morningstar’s valuation models ensure that only firms trading at attractive valuations relative to peers are selected for the fund. Whilst mega-caps such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon dominate, there is innovation and value to be found across the sector. From artificial intelligence to cyber-security, e-commerce and cloud infrastructure technology firms are growing and diversifying in many different directions. As such, companies are equally weighted within the fund to capture growth in small- and mid-cap companies that emerge as leading players in their field. The Future Present range has since expanded to include Australia’s first robotics, automation and artificial intelligence ETF – ETFS ROBO Global Robotics and Automation ETF (ASX code: ROBO). Companies are increasingly investing in automation as they seek to improve productivity; reducing production costs and, in turn, increasing profitability. Already generating more than $200 billion annually, sales in the robotics and automation sectors are tipped to increase more than five-fold over the next decade. (2) Currently, more than two thirds of industrial robots are employed in the automotive, electronics and metal industries(3) , but their use is likely to become more widespread as artificial intelligence systems develop further. Improvements in image and voice recognition, for example, as well as increasing usability of machine vision technology will enable robots to perform ever more complex tasks, widening their application and seeing them penetrate other industries. For ROBO, ETF Securities has partnered with ROBO Global, pioneers in robotics and automation investing and the developers of the benchmark industry classification system for the sector. ROBO Global’s expertise lies in their ability to identify companies that are best-placed to benefit from the structural changes underway. Which have competitive advantages that are likely to persist through time? Which are most profitable and likely to generate the strongest long-term returns for shareholders? Benefiting from ETF Securities’ heritage as Australia’s second oldest provider of exchange traded products, combined with the specialist expertise of our research partners, the Future Present range provides investors with a unique opportunity to invest in mega trends that are occurring all around us. We look forward to expanding the Future Present product range in 2018 and beyond. (1) Source: Bloomberg data as at 11 January 2018. (2) Business Insider Intelligence, Cyber Security Report, Apr 2016 (3) Source: International Federation of Robotics 2016

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