Monthly Archives

January 2021

Canadian ETFs: A look at December’s launches and terminations – and how the industry grew in 2020

The Canadian ETF industry reached $257 billion in assets under management at the end of November, compared to $205 billion one year ago, for an annual growth rate of 25.4%. ETFs reported record inflows of $40 billion this year representing 19.5% of the AUM at the beginning of the year. In the last 5-year period, the ETF industry passed from $89.6 billion to $257 billion for an annual growth rate of 23.5%.

Thematic ETFs were popular this year. ESG ETFs saw inflows of $1.8 billion compared to the last record set in 2018 of approximately $750 million. The number of ESG ETFs created during the year was 49, bringing the number at year-end to 58. Innovation was another major theme. Emerge, a thematic ETF provider, was able to take full advantage of this trend by increasing its assets under management from $10M to $204M as a result of the $157M inflow.

In the last few years, asset allocation ETFs have made a breakthrough for investors who want simplicity. Since their introduction in 2018, they collectively provided an inflow of approximately $100 million each month. 13 out of 39 ETF providers offer asset allocation ETFs.

December was rather quiet in terms of launches which is not unusual. Only Horizons launched a new ETF. The Horizons Tactical Absolute Return Bond ETF takes long and short positions in debt instruments and derivatives, primarily North American, across the entire credit spectrum in order to provide positive absolute returns with low volatility in any environment.

Interest in bitcoin has returned strongly as a result of the impressive rise in price. For bitcoin enthusiasts, there is no bitcoin ETF yet, but there are other structures. Honourable mention to the CI Galaxy Bitcoin Fund (BTCG.UN & BTCG.U) managed by CI Investments and structured as a limited partnership (LP) that started operations on December 16.

Portfolio Manager’s January Comment For Q4 2020 Results

Global equities ended the year on a strong finish. The S&P/TSX Composite Total Return Index increased by 9% in Q4 for a total annual return of 5.6%. During Q4, the S&P500 produced a 12.1% return for an annual total return of 18.4% while the MSCI ACWI ex US posted a 17.1% return leading to an annual return of 11.1%.

There was a number of drivers behind this strong finish. Firstly, most company’s results were inline or better than expected. Secondly, central banks have maintained a dovish tone. Finally, the arrival of highly potent anti-COVID vaccines.

In Canada, the best Q4 sectors were Health care up 29.9% and Consumer discretionary up 20.4%. The worst sectors were Consumer Staples down 6.0% and Materials down 4%.

For the year, Info-Tech and Utilities were the top performers up 80.3%% and 19.5% respectively while Energy and Health Care were the weakest down 30.8% and 23.6%

NQICA in Q4 returned 7.3% leading to an annual total return of 2% versus the S&P/TSX TR composite return of 9% in Q4 and 5.6% for the year.

The best performers in NQICA were First National up 8.9%, Equitable Group up 6.6% and Stella-Jones up 4.8% on the back of excellent Q3 results.
On the other hand, the worst performers in Q4 were Richelieu Hardware down 12.6% and Metro down 4.8% on profit taking.