After years of sharp market turns, investors have grown wary of volatility, investing in broad low-volatility exchange traded funds. Now, PowerShares is expanding its line of low-volatility ETFs with one that focuses on mid-cap stocks and another on small-caps.
"Investors continue to embrace low-volatility ETF strategies as a simple and effective way to maintain equity exposure while mitigating overall portfolio risk," Ben Fulton, Invesco PowerShares managing director of global ETFs, said in the press release. "The two new PowerShares ETFs will provide investors with convenient access to low volatility strategies covering the US mid-cap and small-cap segments."
XMLV will try to reflect the performance of the S&P MidCap 400 Low Volatility Index, which tracks 80 of the least volatile stocks from the S&P MidCap 400 Index over the last 12 months and weights holdings based on the securities' inverse volatility, so the least volatile securities have the highest weighting.
XSLV will try to reflect the performance of the S&P SmallCap 600 Low Volatility Index, which holds 120 of the least volatile stocks from the S&P SmallCap 600 Index over the last 12 months and weights according to the least volatility.
The two new funds will provide alternative exposure to the large-cap PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility Portfolio (SPLV), which tracks the least volatile 100 stocks from the S&P 500 Index. Over the past year, SPLV has gained 17.0% compared to the 15.8% rise in the S&P 500 Index.
"Over the past 50 years, the least-volatile stocks have performed about as well as the market, but with far less risk," according to Morningstar analyst Samuel Lee.
However, over short periods, low-volatility funds may underperform the broad indices during bull market rallies since low-volatility funds are exposed to more defensive sector picks.
"Investors should be willing to underperform during extended bull markets," Lee added.
Max Chen contributed to this article.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.