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In February 2013 I created a “Dual ETF Momentum” spreadsheet. The strategy was inspired by a paper written by Gary Antonacci and available on Optimal Momentum.

The spreadsheet is available on Scott’s Investments here. The objective of the spreadsheet is to track four pairs of ETFs and provide an “Invested” signal for the ETF in each pair with the highest relative momentum.

Relative momentum is gauged by the 12 month total returns of each ETF. The 12 month total returns of each ETF are also compared to a short-term Treasury ETF (a “cash” filter) in the form of iShares Barclays 1-3 Treasury Bond ETF (NYSEARCA:SHY). In order to have an “Invested” signal, the ETF with the highest relative strength must also have 12-month total returns greater than the 12-month total returns of SHY. This is the absolute momentum filter, which is detailed in depth by Antonacci, and has historically helped increase risk-adjusted returns.

An “average” return signal for each ETF is also available on the spreadsheet. The concept is the same as the 12-month relative momentum. However, the “average” return signal uses the average of the past 3, 6, and 12 (“3/6/12″) month total returns for each ETF. The “invested” signal is based on the ETF with the highest relative momentum for the past 3, 6 and 12 months. The ETF with the highest average relative strength must also have an average 3/6/12 total returns greater than the 3/6/12 total returns of the cash ETF.

Portfolio123 was used to test a similar strategy using the same portfolios and combined momentum score (“3/6/12″). The test results were posted in the 2013 Year in Review.

Below are the four portfolios along with current signals:

Return data courtesy of Finviz
Equity Representative ETF Signal based on 1 year returns Signal based on average returns
US Equities VTI Invested Invested
International Equities VEU
Cash SHY
Credit Risk Representative ETF Signal based on 1 year returns Signal based on average returns
High Yield Bond HYG Invested Invested
Interm Credit Bond CIU
Cash SHY
Real-Estate Risk Representative ETF Signal based on 1 year returns Signal based on average returns
Equity REIT VNQ Invested
Mortgage REIT REM
Cash SHY Invested
Economic Stress Representative ETF Signal based on 1 year returns Signal based on average returns
Gold GLD
Long-term Treasuries TLT Invested
Cash SHY Invested

As an added bonus, the spreadsheet also has four additional sheets using a dual momentum strategy with broker specific commission-free ETFs for TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, Fidelity, and Vanguard. It is important to note that each broker may have additional trade restrictions and the terms of their commission-free ETFs could change in the future.

Disclosure: None.

Source: Dual Momentum ETF Portfolio