Skip to Content

Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Order Granting Approval of Proposed Rule Change To List and Trade Shares of the Rockledge SectorSAM ETF Under NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

January 5, 2012.

I. Introduction

On November 3, 2011, NYSE Arca, Inc. (“Exchange” or “NYSE Arca”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”), pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”) [1] and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,[2] a proposed rule change to list and trade shares (“Shares”) of the Rockledge SectorSAM ETF (“Fund”) under NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600. The proposed rule change was published in the Federal Register on November 23, 2011.[3] The Commission received no comments on the proposal. This order grants approval of the proposed rule change.

II. Description of the Proposal

The Exchange proposes to list and trade the Shares of the Fund pursuant to NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600, which governs the listing and trading of Managed Fund Shares on the Exchange. The Shares will be offered by AdvisorShares Trust (“Trust”), a statutory trust organized under the laws of the State of Delaware and registered with the Commission as an open-end management investment company.[4] The investment adviser to the Fund is AdvisorShares Investments, LLC (“Adviser”). Rockledge Advisers LLC serves as investment sub-adviser to the Fund (“Rockledge” or “Sub-Adviser”) and provides day-to-day portfolio management of the Fund. Foreside Fund Services, LLC is the principal underwriter and distributor of the Fund's Shares. The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation serves as administrator, custodian, and transfer agent for the Fund. The Exchange states that neither the Adviser nor the Sub-Adviser is affiliated with a broker-dealer.[5]

Description of the Fund

The Fund is considered a “fund-of-funds” that seeks to achieve its investment objective by primarily investing in other U.S.-listed exchange-traded funds (“Underlying ETFs”) that offer diversified exposure to U.S. large capitalization (generally, Standard & Poor 500 companies) sectors. The Sub-Adviser will use “Sector Scoring and Allocation Methodology” (“SectorSAM”), which is a proprietary quantitative analysis, to forecast each sector's excess return within a specific time horizon. The Sub-Adviser will seek to achieve the Fund's investment objective by buying (taking long positions in) Underlying ETFs intended to capture the performance of the most promising sectors and selling (establishing short positions) in Underlying ETFs with the intent of profiting from the least promising sectors of U.S. large capitalization broad market securities. The strategy is designed to generate higher returns in a higher interest rate environment, which is often associated with increased inflation.[6]

Under normal circumstances,[7] the Fund intends to invest equal dollar amounts to obtain both long and short exposure in the market at each major rebalancing point (on at least a monthly basis). When fully invested, the Fund will typically be both 100% long and 100% short of total portfolio value. The Sub-Adviser, in its discretion, may choose an additional long or short bias of up to 50% exposure, or may choose to hold amounts in cash or cash equivalents depending on its view of market conditions.

The Underlying ETFs in which the Fund will invest will primarily be ETFs that hold substantially all of their assets in securities representing a specific index. The main risk of investing in index-based investments is the same as investing in a portfolio of securities comprising the index. The market prices of index-based investments will fluctuate in accordance with both changes in the market value of their underlying portfolio securities and due to supply and demand for the instruments on the exchanges on which they are traded (which may result in their trading at a discount or premium to their net asset values (“NAVs”)).

The Fund, through its investment in Underlying ETFs, may invest in equity securities. Equity securities represent ownership interests in a company or partnership and consist of common stocks, preferred stocks, warrants to acquire common stock, securities convertible into common stock, and investments in master limited partnerships.

The Fund, through its investment in Underlying ETFs, may invest in American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”), as well as Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”, together with ADRs, “Depositary Receipts”), which are certificates evidencing ownership of shares of a foreign issuer. Depositary Receipts may be sponsored or unsponsored. These certificates are issued by depositary banks and generally trade on an established market in the United States or elsewhere. The underlying shares are held in trust by a custodian bank or similar financial institution in the issuer's home country. The depositary bank may not have physical custody of the underlying securities at all times and may charge fees for various services, including forwarding dividends and interest and corporate actions. ADRs are alternatives to directly purchasing the underlying foreign securities in their national markets and currencies. However, ADRs continue to be subject to many of the risks associated with investing directly in foreign securities.

Through Underlying ETFs, the Fund may invest in the equity securities of foreign issuers, including the securities of foreign issuers in emerging market countries. Emerging or developing markets exist in countries that are considered to be in the initial stages of industrialization. The risks of investing in these markets are similar to the risks of international investing in general, although the risks are greater in emerging and developing markets. Countries with emerging or developing securities markets tend to have economic structures that are less stable than countries with developed securities markets. This is because their economies may be based on only a few industries and their securities markets may trade a small number of securities. Prices on these exchanges tend to be volatile, and securities in these countries historically have offered greater potential for gain (as well as loss) than securities of companies located in developed countries.

The Fund, through its investment in Underlying ETFs, may invest in closed-end funds, pooled investment vehicles that are registered under the 1940 Act and whose shares are listed and traded on U.S. national securities exchanges.

The Fund, through its investment in Underlying ETFs, may invest in shares of real estate investment trusts (“REITs”). REITs are pooled investment vehicles which invest primarily in real estate or real estate related loans. REITs are generally classified as equity REITs, mortgage REITs or a combination of equity and mortgage REITs.

The Fund intends to invest primarily in the securities of Underlying ETFs consistent with the requirements of Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act, or any rule, regulation or order of the Commission or interpretation thereof.

The Underlying ETFs may invest in complex securities such as equity options, index options, repurchase agreements, foreign currency contracts and swaps. The Fund does not intend to invest in leveraged, inverse or inverse leveraged Underlying ETFs.

Investment Process

The following describes the Sub-Adviser's investment process:

(a) Quantitative Analysis. Rockledge has developed a proprietary SectorSAMTM quantitative research and evaluation process that forecasts economic excess sector returns (over/under the Standard & Poor's 500 Index (“S&P 500 Index”) for a given timeframe). Absolute returns may be captured by investing long in sectors which are forecasted to outperform the overall U.S. equity market and shorting sectors that are forecasted to underperform the market.

SectorSAM analysis provides for individual sector forecasts through analysis of over 200 fundamental, macroeconomic, and technical factors influencing stock returns. The SectorSAM process creates a basket of factors that are meaningful to each economic sector within the S&P 500 Index. Rockledge reviews the information to make portfolio decisions on behalf of the Fund.

(b) Long/Short Portfolio Construction. The Fund's portfolio will be comprised primarily of an equal dollar amount of long and short positions based on the Rockledge relative value strategy.[8] Rockledge will actively manage and adjust the positions in its long and short portfolios as dictated by its proprietary SectorSAM quantitative research and evaluation process.

(c) Risk Management. The Fund's core long/short portfolio construction generally will be dollar neutral, where the value of all long positions is equal to the value of all short positions. This provides a high degree of inherent risk control, especially when stock markets are falling. The short positions provide protection against market declines, and may offer the potential to generate positive returns when markets are falling if the short positions fall more than the long positions. Rockledge will use a number of methods to monitor and manage the inherent risk of the portfolio including the tracking of relative sector exposure, volatility, and sector correlations. Rockledge proactively will monitor its positions, exposure and performance attribution on a real-time basis to identify, monitor and mitigate the most threatening risks to the Fund's ability to attain its investment objective.

The Fund's portfolio holdings will be disclosed on the Trust's Web site daily after the close of trading on the Exchange and prior to the opening of trading on the Exchange the following day.

Other Investments of the Fund

To respond to adverse market, economic, political, or other conditions,[9] the Fund may invest 100% of its total assets, without limitation, in high-quality debt securities and money market instruments either directly or through Underlying ETFs. The Fund may be invested in these instruments for extended periods, depending on the Sub-Adviser's assessment of market conditions. These debt securities and money market instruments include shares of other mutual funds, commercial paper, certificates of deposit, bankers' acceptances, U.S. Government securities,[10] repurchase agreements,[11] and bonds that are BBB or higher.

The Fund, or the Underlying ETFs in which it invests, may invest in U.S. Treasury zero-coupon bonds. These securities are U.S. Treasury bonds which have been stripped of their unmatured interest coupons, the coupons themselves, and receipts or certificates representing interests in such stripped debt obligations and coupons.

The Fund may invest in exchange-traded notes (“ETNs”). ETNs are debt obligations of investment banks which are traded on exchanges and the returns of which are linked to the performance of market indexes. In addition to trading ETNs on exchanges, investors may redeem ETNs directly with the issuer on a weekly basis, typically in a minimum amount of 50,000 units, or hold the ETNs until maturity. ETNs may be riskier than ordinary debt securities and may have no principal protection.

The Fund will seek to qualify for treatment as a Regulated Investment Company under Subchapter M of the Internal Revenue Code. The Fund may not (i) with respect to 75% of its total assets, purchase securities of any issuer (except securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government, its agencies or instrumentalities or shares of investment companies) if, as a result, more than 5% of its total assets would be invested in the securities of such issuer; or (ii) acquire more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of any one issuer. For purposes of this policy, the issuer of the underlying security will be deemed to be the issuer of any respective Depositary Receipt. The Fund may not invest 25% or more of its total assets in the securities of one or more issuers conducting their principal business activities in the same industry or group of industries. This limitation does not apply to investments in securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government, its agencies or instrumentalities, or shares of investment companies. The Fund will not invest 25% or more of its total assets in any investment company that so concentrates. For purposes of this policy, the issuer of the underlying security will be deemed to be the issuer of any respective Depositary Receipt.

Except for Underlying ETFs that may hold non-U.S. issues, the Fund will not otherwise invest in non-U.S.-registered issues.

Pursuant to the terms of the Exemptive Order, the Fund will not invest in options contracts, futures contracts, or swap agreements. The Fund's investments will be consistent with the Fund's investment objective and will not be used to enhance leverage. The Fund will not purchase illiquid securities, including Rule 144A securities and loan participation interests.

Additional information regarding the Trust, the Fund, and the Shares, including investment strategies, risks, creation and redemption procedures, fees, portfolio holdings disclosure policies, distributions, and taxes, among other things, is included in the Registration Statement. All terms relating to the Fund that are referred to, but not defined in, this proposed rule change are defined in the Notice and/or Registration Statement, as applicable.[12]

III. Discussion and Commission's Findings

The Commission has carefully reviewed the proposed rule change and finds that it is consistent with the requirements of Section 6 of the Act [13] and the rules and regulations thereunder applicable to a national securities exchange.[14] In particular, the Commission finds that the proposal is consistent with Section 6(b)(5) of the Act,[15] which requires, among other things, that the Exchange's rules be designed to promote just and equitable principles of trade, to remove impediments to and perfect the mechanism of a free and open market and a national market system, and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest. The Commission notes that the Shares must comply with the requirements of NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600 to be listed and traded on the Exchange.

The Commission finds that the proposal to list and trade the Shares on the Exchange is consistent with Section 11A(a)(1)(C)(iii) of the Act,[16] which sets forth Congress' finding that it is in the public interest and appropriate for the protection of investors and the maintenance of fair and orderly markets to assure the availability to brokers, dealers, and investors of information with respect to quotations for, and transactions in, securities. Quotation and last-sale information for the Shares will be available via the Consolidated Tape Association high-speed line and, for the Underlying ETFs, will be available from the national securities exchange(s) on which they are listed.[17] In addition, the Portfolio Indicative Value (“PIV”), as defined in NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600(c)(3), will be widely disseminated by one or more major market data vendors at least every 15 seconds during the Core Trading Session.[18] On each business day, before commencement of trading in Shares during the Core Trading Session on the Exchange, the Fund will disclose on its Web site the Disclosed Portfolio, as defined in NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600(c)(2), that will form the basis for the Fund's calculation of the NAV at the end of the business day.[19] The Fund will calculate NAV once each business day as of the regularly scheduled close of the Core Trading Session on the Exchange (normally 4 p.m. Eastern Time). A basket composition file, which includes the security names and share quantities required to be delivered in exchange for Fund shares, together with estimates and actual cash components, will be publicly disseminated daily prior to the opening of the New York Stock Exchange via the National Securities Clearing Corporation. Information regarding market price and trading volume of the Shares will be continually available on a real-time basis throughout the day on brokers' computer screens and other electronic services, and information regarding the previous day's closing price and trading volume information for the Shares will be published daily in the financial section of newspapers. The Fund's Web site will also include a form of the prospectus for the Fund, information relating to NAV (updated daily), and other quantitative and trading information.

The Commission further believes that the proposal to list and trade the Shares is reasonably designed to promote fair disclosure of information that may be necessary to price the Shares appropriately and to prevent trading when a reasonable degree of transparency cannot be assured. The Commission notes that the Exchange will obtain a representation from the issuer of the Shares that the NAV will be calculated daily and that the NAV and the Disclosed Portfolio will be made available to all market participants at the same time.[20] In addition, the Exchange will halt trading in the Shares under the specific circumstances set forth in NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600(d)(2)(D) and may halt trading in the Shares if trading is not occurring in the securities and/or the financial instruments comprising the Disclosed Portfolio of the Fund, or if other unusual conditions or circumstances detrimental to the maintenance of a fair and orderly market are present.[21] Further, the Commission notes that the Reporting Authority that provides the Disclosed Portfolio must implement and maintain, or be subject to, procedures designed to prevent the use and dissemination of material non-public information regarding the actual components of the portfolio.[22] The Exchange states that it has a general policy prohibiting the distribution of material, non-public information by its employees, and neither the Adviser nor the Sub-Adviser is affiliated with a broker-dealer.[23] The Commission also notes that the Exchange can obtain information with respect to the Underlying ETFs from the U.S. exchanges, which are all members of the Intermarket Surveillance Group, listing and trading such Underlying ETFs.

The Exchange represents that the Shares are deemed to be equity securities, thus rendering trading in the Shares subject to the Exchange's existing rules governing the trading of equity securities. In support of this proposal, the Exchange has made representations, including:

(1) The Shares will conform to the initial and continued listing criteria under NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600.

(2) The Exchange has appropriate rules to facilitate transactions in the Shares during all trading sessions.

(3) The Exchange's surveillance procedures applicable to derivative products, which include Managed Fund Shares, are adequate to properly monitor Exchange trading of the Shares in all trading sessions and to deter and detect violations of Exchange rules and applicable federal securities laws.

(4) Prior to the commencement of trading, the Exchange will inform its Equity Trading Permit Holders in an Information Bulletin of the special characteristics and risks associated with trading the Shares. Specifically, the Information Bulletin will discuss the following: (a) The procedures for purchases and redemptions of Shares in Creation Unit Aggregations (and that Shares are not individually redeemable); (b) NYSE Arca Equities Rule 9.2(a), which imposes a duty of due diligence on its Equity Trading Permit Holders to learn the essential facts relating to every customer prior to trading the Shares; (c) the risks involved in trading the Shares during the Opening and Late Trading Sessions when an updated PIV will not be calculated or publicly disseminated; (d) how information regarding the PIV is disseminated; (e) the requirement that Equity Trading Permit Holders deliver a prospectus to investors purchasing newly issued Shares prior to or concurrently with the confirmation of a transaction; and (f) trading and other information.

(5) For initial and/or continued listing, the Fund will be in compliance with Rule 10A-3 under the Act,[24] as provided by NYSE Arca Equities Rule 5.3.

(6) The Fund will not: (a) Purchase illiquid securities, including Rule 144A securities and loan participation interests; (b) invest in non-U.S. issues (except for Underlying ETFs that may hold non-U.S. issues); (c) invest in leveraged, inverse, or inverse leveraged Underlying ETFs; and (d) pursuant to the terms of the Exemptive Order, invest in options contracts, futures contracts, or swap agreements.

(7) A minimum of 100,000 Shares of the Fund will be outstanding at the commencement of trading on the Exchange.

This approval order is based on the Exchange's representations.

For the foregoing reasons, the Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6(b)(5) of the Act [25] and the rules and regulations thereunder applicable to a national securities exchange.

IV. Conclusion

It is therefore ordered, pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act,[26] that the proposed rule change (SR-NYSEArca-2011-80) be, and it hereby is, approved.

For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.[27]

Kevin M. O'Neill,

Deputy Secretary.

Footnotes

3.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 65778 (November 17, 2011), 76 FR 72474 (“Notice”).

Back to Citation

4.  The Trust is registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (“1940 Act”). On April 11, 2011, the Trust filed with the Commission Post-Effective Amendment No. 23 to Form N-1A under the Securities Act of 1933 (15 U.S.C. 77a) and under the 1940 Act relating to the Fund (File Nos. 333-157876 and 811-22110) (“Registration Statement”). In addition, the Commission has issued an order granting exemptive relief to the Trust under the 1940 Act. See Investment Company Act Release No. 29291 (May 28, 2010) (File No. 812-13677) (“Exemptive Order”).

Back to Citation

5.  See Commentary .06 to NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600. The Exchange represents that, in the event (a) the Adviser or Sub-Adviser becomes newly affiliated with a broker-dealer, or (b) any new adviser or sub-adviser becomes affiliated with a broker-dealer, such adviser and/or sub-adviser will implement a fire wall with respect to such broker-dealer regarding access to information concerning the composition and/or changes to the portfolio, and will be subject to procedures designed to prevent the use and dissemination of material non-public information regarding such portfolio.

Back to Citation

6.  The Underlying ETFs are registered under the 1940 Act and will be listed and traded in the U.S. on registered exchanges.

Back to Citation

7.  The term “under normal circumstances” includes, but is not limited to, the absence of extreme volatility or trading halts in the equity markets or the financial markets generally; operational issues causing dissemination of inaccurate market information; or force majeure type events such as systems failure, natural or man-made disaster, act of God, armed conflict, act of terrorism, riot or labor disruption or any similar intervening circumstance.

Back to Citation

8.  The following convictions constitute the guiding philosophy for the relative investment strategy pursued by the Sub-Adviser:

1. The U.S. economy goes through various growth and contraction stages and the various economic sectors reflect these changes.

2. Large capitalization stocks are heavily researched and well known to equity analysts. The valuations and pricing of these stocks are very close to efficient. It is difficult to make significant outsized returns by investing in individual large capitalization stocks.

3. The valuation of each U.S economic sector is directly based on the aggregation of valuation of the individual companies making up that sector. Up to 90% of an individual stock's performance can be attributed to the return of the sector that stock is in.

4. Sector investing provides a better risk/return profile than individual stock investing. Sector investing eliminates company specific risk as sectors are inherently diversified.

5. Appropriately and correctly forecasted, one can capture both the upside potential of the outperforming sectors and downside loss of the underperforming sectors, relative to a broad market index.

6. There can be significant performance dispersion among various economic sectors. The ability to identify which sectors will outperform the broad market and which will underperform over a specified time period can lead to considerable cumulative absolute returns.

Back to Citation

9.  Adverse market conditions would include large downturns in the broad market value of two or more times current average volatility, where the Sub-Adviser views such downturns as likely to continue for an extended period of time. Adverse economic conditions would include significant negative results in factors deemed critical at the time by the Sub-Adviser, including significant negative results regarding unemployment, Gross Domestic Product, consumer spending or housing numbers. Adverse political conditions would include events such as government overthrows or instability, where the Sub-Adviser expects that such events may potentially create a negative market or economic condition for an extended period of time.

Back to Citation

10.  Securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities include U.S. Treasury securities, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury and which differ only in their interest rates, maturities, and times of issuance. U.S. Treasury bills have initial maturities of one year or less; U.S. Treasury notes have initial maturities of one to ten years; and U.S. Treasury bonds generally have initial maturities of greater than ten years. Certain U.S. government securities are issued or guaranteed by agencies or instrumentalities of the U.S. government including, but not limited to, obligations of U.S. government agencies or instrumentalities such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Government National Mortgage Association, the Small Business Administration, the Federal Farm Credit Administration, the Federal Home Loan Banks, Banks for Cooperatives (including the Central Bank for Cooperatives), the Federal Land Banks, the Federal Intermediate Credit Banks, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Federal Financing Bank, the Student Loan Marketing Association, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation.

Back to Citation

11.  The Fund may enter into repurchase agreements with financial institutions, which may be deemed to be loans. The Fund follows certain procedures designed to minimize the risks inherent in such agreements. These procedures include effecting repurchase transactions only with large, well-capitalized and well-established financial institutions whose condition will be continually monitored by the Sub-Adviser. In addition, the value of the collateral underlying the repurchase agreement will always be at least equal to the repurchase price, including any accrued interest earned on the repurchase agreement. The Fund may enter into reverse repurchase agreements as part of the Fund's investment strategy. Reverse repurchase agreements involve sales by the Fund of portfolio assets concurrently with an agreement by the Fund to repurchase the same assets at a later date at a fixed price.

Back to Citation

12.  See Notice and Registration Statement, supra notes 3 and 4, respectively.

Back to Citation

14.  In approving this proposed rule change, the Commission has considered the proposed rule's impact on efficiency, competition, and capital formation. See 15 U.S.C. 78c(f).

Back to Citation

16.  15 U.S.C. 78k-1(a)(1)(C)(iii).

Back to Citation

17.  The intra-day, closing, and settlement prices of the portfolio securities are also readily available on automated quotation systems, published or other public sources, or online information services such as Bloomberg or Reuters.

Back to Citation

18.  The Exchange states that it understands that several major market data vendors widely disseminate PIVs taken from the Consolidated Tape Association or other data feeds. See Notice at 72478, supra note 3.

Back to Citation

19.  On a daily basis, the Adviser will disclose for each portfolio security or other financial instrument of the Fund the following information: Ticker symbol (if applicable); name of security or financial instrument; number of shares or dollar value of financial instruments held in the portfolio; and percentage weighting of the security or financial instrument in the portfolio.

Back to Citation

20.  See NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600(d)(1)(B).

Back to Citation

21.  See NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600(d)(2)(C). With respect to trading halts, the Exchange may consider other relevant factors in exercising its discretion to halt or suspend trading in the Shares of the Fund. Trading in Shares of the Fund will be halted if the circuit breaker parameters in NYSE Arca Equities Rule 7.12 have been reached. Trading also may be halted because of market conditions or for reasons that, in the view of the Exchange, make trading in the Shares inadvisable.

Back to Citation

22.  See NYSE Arca Equities Rule 8.600(d)(2)(B)(ii).

Back to Citation

23.  See supra note 5 and accompanying text. The Commission notes that an investment adviser to an open-end fund is required to be registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”). As a result, the Adviser and Sub-Adviser and their related personnel are subject to the provisions of Rule 204A-1 under the Advisers Act relating to codes of ethics. This Rule requires investment advisers to adopt a code of ethics that reflects the fiduciary nature of the relationship to clients as well as compliance with other applicable securities laws. Accordingly, procedures designed to prevent the communication and misuse of non-public information by an investment adviser must be consistent with Rule 204A-1 under the Advisers Act. In addition, Rule 206(4)-7 under the Advisers Act makes it unlawful for an investment adviser to provide investment advice to clients unless such investment adviser has (i) adopted and implemented written policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent violation, by the investment adviser and its supervised persons, of the Advisers Act and the Commission rules adopted thereunder; (ii) implemented, at a minimum, an annual review regarding the adequacy of the policies and procedures established pursuant to subparagraph (i) above and the effectiveness of their implementation; and (iii) designated an individual (who is a supervised person) responsible for administering the policies and procedures adopted under subparagraph (i) above.

Back to Citation

[FR Doc. 2012-322 Filed 1-10-12; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8011-01-P