November 18, 2011

Top Portfolio Products: Social Media ETF From Global X; Forward Debuts Long/Short Fund

Panda Power closes fund; Neuberger Berman celebrates a milestone; Russell goes mobile

New products introduced over the last week include a new social media ETF from Global X and a global credit long/short mutual fund from Forward. In addition, Panda Power closed a private equity fund; Neuberger Berman marked a fifth anniversary; and Russell took an advisor site mobile.

Here are the latest developments of interest to advisors:

1) Global X Social Media Index ETF Launches

Global X announced on Tuesday the launch of its Social Media Index ETF (SOCL), which seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Solactive Social Media Index.

The Solactive Social Media Index is designed to reflect the performance of companies involved in the social media industry, including companies that provide social networking, file sharing, and other Web-based media applications.

2) Forward Launches Global Credit Long/Short Mutual Fund Focused on Corporate Debt Opportunities

Forward Management, LLC announced Thursday the launch of the Forward Global Credit Long/Short Fund. (FGCRX). Offering a hedge-style long/short strategy focused on the corporate debt sector, the new fund is managed by SW Asset Management, LLC. David Hinman, co-founder and chief investment officer of SW Asset Management, is co-portfolio manager for the new fund.

J. Alan Reid, CEO of Forward Management, said the new fund has some bias to emerging markets, given their generally higher economic growth rates, but typically invests broadly in at least 10 countries at any one time. The strategy can also potentially hedge against sovereign defaults and extreme credit market downturns.

At least 40% of fund assets must be invested in issuers based outside the U.S. The fund, which launched October 1, is offered in investor class, institutional class, class C, and class M shares.

3) Panda Power Funds Closes $420 Million Private Equity Fund

Panda Power Funds announced November 16 the final close of the Panda Power Generation Infrastructure Fund with $420 million in capital commitments.

The fund plans to develop or acquire U.S. natural gas-fueled power plants and utility-scale solar projects in select states. Investors include large public and corporate pension plans and other institutional investors. Beacon Hill Financial Corporation of Boston acted as the exclusive placement agent for the Panda Power Generation Infrastructure Fund; Compass Advisors, LLP advised on the capital raise; and legal services were provided by Latham & Watkins LLP.

The fund currently has investments in an extensive pipeline of power projects, including two projects which are primed for construction. Its 650MW Sherman, Texas and 1,300MW Temple, Texas projects, representing approximately $2 billion in financing, are strategically sited in high growth areas in one of the nation’s fastest growing states. Its first investment was to develop the $94 million, 20MW Pilesgrove Solar Farm.

The 110-acre plant is the largest solar facility in the northeast U.S. with more than 71,000 solar panels. The facility began supplying power to the New Jersey grid in late August and is located approximately 28 miles southwest of Philadelphia outside of Woodstown, N.J., and is a joint venture between Panda Power Funds and Con Edison Development, a subsidiary of New York-based Consolidated Edison, one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies.

4) Neuberger Berman Equity Income Fund Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

Neuberger Berman Group LLC announced November 15 that it is celebrating the five-year anniversary of its Neuberger Berman Equity Income Fund (NBHAX, NBHCX, NBHIX, and NBHRX). The fund, introduced November 2, 2006, ranks in the top 1% of the mid-cap value category since inception for the period ended September 30, 2011, from a universe of 256 funds, according to Morningstar.

Morningstar also ranks the fund in the top 4% for the three years through September 30, 2011, from a universe of 354 funds, and in the top 2% year-to-date through the end of September from a universe of 433 funds.

The fund has been managed since its inception by veteran portfolio managers Tony Gleason, Richard S. Levine and Alexandra (Sandy) Pomeroy, managing directors and also senior members of the MLG Group, one of more than 40 distinct investment teams within Neuberger Berman. Based on a successful separate account strategy investing in utilities, stocks, convertibles, REITs and other income-producing equities, the fund was incubated with $5 million of the firm's money and has grown to approximately $1.5 billion in assets as of September 30, 2011.

5) Russell Launches ‘Helping Advisors’ Mobile Edition to Enhance Advisor-Client Conversations

Russell Investments announced Thursday that it has introduced an iPad-enabled edition of its Helping Advisors website that facilitates access to key tools including the Economic Indicators Dashboard, the Business Cycle Index and the Helping Advisors blog. The new version, which went live this month, addresses advisors’ growing interest in having robust and easy-to access tools and information immediately available at their fingertips.

Since its launch in 2009, Russell’s Helping Advisors site has grown to generate more than 5,000 visits per month and nearly 185,000 visitors since its launch. This has paralleled a steady increase in mobile device traffic, and in October alone, mobile device traffic made up 10% of all visits to the site. The new version of Helping Advisors makes the useful content elements from the site readily available for advisors’ use in conversations with clients, or while on the go.

Read last week’s Portfolio Products Roundup at AdvisorOne.

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