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Top Portfolio Products: Wasatch Launches Frontier Fund; Westwood Seeks High Yield

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New products introduced over the last week include a frontier markets fund from Wasatch and a short-duration, high-yield fund from Westwood.

In addition, Russell introduced a series of indices aimed at volatility control and Nasdaq OMX and Axioma brought out a series of equity-commodity indices.

Here are the latest developments of interest to advisors:

1) Wasatch Introduces a Frontier Markets Fund

Wasatch Funds announced the launch on Jan. 31 of the Wasatch Frontier Emerging Small Countries Fund (WAFMX), a no-load open-end mutual fund focused exclusively on frontier and smaller emerging market countries. The fund was scheduled for broader rollout March 5 on the Schwab, Fidelity and TD Ameritrade platforms. It is managed by Laura Geritz, who is also a portfolio manager of the Wasatch Emerging Markets Small Cap Fund with Roger Edgley, director of international research.

Wasatch considers a “small emerging market country” to be any country that individually constitutes no more than 7% of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index or the S&P Emerging Markets Broad Market Index.

2) Westwood Introduces Short-Duration, High-Yield Fund

Westwood Holdings Group Inc. announced March 1 the availability of the Westwood Short Duration High Yield Fund (WHGHX), which is designed to provide investors the opportunity to potentially capture high current income by investing principally in non-investment grade debt with expected maturities of three years or less. The primary goal of the strategy is to generate a high level of current income while also experiencing lower volatility than the broader high-yield market. The fund is subadvised by Greenwich, Conn.-based SKY Harbor Capital Management.

The fund will be offered in an institutional share class with a total expense ratio capped at 0.90%. Fee waivers are contractual through Feb. 28, 2013. The total annual operating expense would otherwise be 2.07%. The fund may be purchased directly from the fund or through third-party mutual fund platforms.

3) Russell Investments Introduces New Russell Volatility Control Index Series

Russell Investments introduced on March 5 a series of equity indexes to help investors more effectively measure volatility. The new Russell Volatility Control Index Series is designed to help investors replicate a targeted volatility investment strategy by representing equity market returns with a dynamic allocation between an underlying Russell index and a cash investment.

The result is an index designed to limit risk in times of heightened market volatility and allow maximum investment in the market during periods of low volatility. The index can be fully customized, so clients can target a precise level of desired risk exposure for any Russell global or U.S. equity index.

4) NASDAQ OMX and Axioma Introduce Equity-Based Indexes to Track Commodity Prices

The NASDAQ OMX Group Inc. and Axioma Inc. announced March 5 a new family of indexes that use equities to provide exposure to the spot prices of commodities. The NASDAQ Axioma indexes offer a way for portfolio managers to match their returns with those of the overall oil, gold and agricultural markets. The indexes are rebalanced monthly and holdings information is available every business day.

The NASDAQ Axioma Equity-Commodity Index Series consists of three price and total return indexes–the NASDAQ Axioma Equity-Commodity Oil Index, the NASDAQ Axioma Equity-Commodity Gold Index and the NASDAQ Axioma Equity-Commodity Agriculture Index.

Read the March 2 Portfolio Products Roundup at


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