SPDN: An Inexpensive Way To Profit When The S&P 500 Falls

Summary
SPDN is not the largest or oldest way to short the S&P 500, but it’s a solid choice.
This ETF uses a variety of financial instruments to target a return opposite that of the S&P 500 Index.
SPDN’s 0.49% Expense Ratio is nearly half that of the larger, longer-tenured -1x Inverse S&P 500 ETF.
Details aside, the potential continuation of the equity bear market makes single-inverse ETFs an investment segment investor should be familiar with.
We rate SPDN a Strong Buy because we believe the risks of a continued bear market greatly outweigh the possibility of a quick return to a bull market.
Put a gear stick into R position, (Reverse).
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By Rob Isbitts

Summary
The S&P 500 is in a bear market, and we don’t see a quick-fix. Many investors assume the only way to navigate a potentially long-term bear market is to hide in cash, day-trade or “just hang in there” while the bear takes their retirement nest egg.

The Direxion Daily S&P 500® Bear 1X ETF (NYSEARCA:SPDN) is one of a class of single-inverse ETFs that allow investors to profit from down moves in the stock market.

SPDN is an unleveraged, liquid, low-cost way to either try to hedge an equity portfolio, profit from a decline in the S&P 500, or both. We rate it a Strong Buy, given our concern about the intermediate-term outlook for the global equity market.

Strategy
SPDN keeps it simple. If the S&P 500 goes up by X%, it should go down by X%. The opposite is also expected.

Proprietary ETF Grades
Offense/Defense: Defense

Segment: Inverse Equity

Sub-Segment: Inverse S&P 500

Correlation (vs. S&P 500): Very High (inverse)

Expected Volatility (vs. S&P 500): Similar (but opposite)

Holding Analysis
SPDN does not rely on shorting individual stocks in the S&P 500. Instead, the managers typically use a combination of futures, swaps and other derivative instruments to create a portfolio that consistently aims to deliver the opposite of what the S&P 500 does.

Strengths
SPDN is a fairly “no-frills” way to do what many investors probably wished they could do during the first 9 months of 2022 and in past bear markets: find something that goes up when the “market” goes down. After all, bonds are not the answer they used to be, commodities like gold have, shall we say, lost their luster. And moving to cash creates the issue of making two correct timing decisions, when to get in and when to get out. SPDN and its single-inverse ETF brethren offer a liquid tool to use in a variety of ways, depending on what a particular investor wants to achieve.

Weaknesses
The weakness of any inverse ETF is that it does the opposite of what the market does, when the market goes up. So, even in bear markets when the broader market trend is down, sharp bear market rallies (or any rallies for that matter) in the S&P 500 will cause SPDN to drop as much as the market goes up.

Opportunities
While inverse ETFs have a reputation in some circles as nothing more than day-trading vehicles, our own experience with them is, pardon the pun, exactly the opposite! We encourage investors to try to better-understand single inverse ETFs like SPDN. While traders tend to gravitate to leveraged inverse ETFs (which actually are day-trading tools), we believe that in an extended bear market, SPDN and its ilk could be a game-saver for many portfolios.

Threats
SPDN and most other single inverse ETFs are vulnerable to a sustained rise in the price of the index it aims to deliver the inverse of. But that threat of loss in a rising market means that when an investor considers SPDN, they should also have a game plan for how and when they will deploy this unique portfolio weapon.

Proprietary Technical Ratings
Short-Term Rating (next 3 months): Strong Buy

Long-Term Rating (next 12 months): Buy

Conclusions
ETF Quality Opinion
SPDN does what it aims to do, and has done so for over 6 years now. For a while, it was largely-ignored, given the existence of a similar ETF that has been around much longer. But the more tenured SPDN has become, the more attractive it looks as an alternative.

ETF Investment Opinion

SPDN is rated Strong Buy because the S&P 500 continues to look as vulnerable to further decline. And, while the market bottomed in mid-June, rallied, then waffled since that time, our proprietary macro market indicators all point to much greater risk of a major decline from this level than a fast return to bull market glory. Thus, SPDN is at best a way to exploit and attack the bear, and at worst a hedge on an otherwise equity-laden portfolio.

Online Learning Management Systems, Key Points for Effective Due Diligence and Return on Investment

OVERVIEW:

Online Learning Management alternatives will continue to evolve rapidly with greater options for new software, hosting and administrative services. Direct costs – typically software and hosting – have decreased with continued upgrades to navigation and user-interface, and now with added efficiencies of ‘cloud’ hosting. Indirect costs require careful review on multiple fronts, such as: a) An objective assessment of available/operational internal resource capacity to perform support, maintenance and administrative services or to engage with out-sourced vendor staff to support these services, and b) An accurate projection of LMS deployment scope. A company’s demand for online learning will rapidly increase and gain complexity over the next 2-3 years. Software and hosting options have almost unlimited capacity to meet demand. Services capacity is the bottleneck.

IN-SOURCED VS OUT-SOURCED LEARNING MANAGEMENT

The critical decision-point is whether to purchase LMS software and in-source the function or to contract with a LMS Services provider to out-source the function. Both options have multiple alternatives available in the market. A sample of key cost and risk elements are discussed in the following paragraphs.

In-Sourcing Learning Management Services:

The upsides to purchasing an LMS are increased control and customization of the online learning function. As online learning demand increases (internally and externally), the business case for LMS in-sourcing gains strength. However, a common misjudgment is underestimating the multi-faceted nature of support required to operate and administer an LMS – most of these elements are “soft costs” not budget line items:

  • Purchasing the software requires analysis but is the easiest part of the process. Good LMS software options can start at $12,000, plus upgrades every 12-18 months for half the purchase cost.
  • The Cost/Time to install the software and achieve operational effectiveness within the client IT environment requires combined IT and Training resources. LMS software installation can be complex, depending on Server Operating Systems and the degree of specialized capacity available within IT and the Training team. Installation raises a range of client server security issues depending on the target user audience – internal staff (working from network computers vs remote) or external constituents.
  • Time for the Training staff to learn how to administer the LMS: publish and upload courses, create curriculums and assign courses to curriculums, enroll/manage users, manage user gradebooks and activity reporting, etc.
  • Cost to acquire/build course content (SCORM complaint)
  • Time to establish course and LMS organization naming conventions and user groups, upload courses, design curriculums, transfer student records, etc. The setup of the user registration process and curriculum listing requires pre-planning prior to loading any content into the LMS.
  • Establish operational back-up – that is, people – within IT and Training who can respond when primary resources are unavailable, leave the company, etc. Every system needs 24/7 IT support and user help support to respond.

Out-Sourcing Learning Management Services:

The key upsides to Out-Sourcing LMS Services are lower internal capacity requirements [the converse of the costs/risks cited in the In-Sourcing discussion above] and the vendor’s responsibility to manage all software, hosting and administrative matters. For example, client server maintenance and downtime, software patches, upgrades and access security plus all functions relating to user course/curriculum access are managed. A hybrid out-sourcing alternative exists in which the course and curriculum functions are supported by client staff trained on the vendor system.

  • Understanding of the LMS vendor’s services cost structure. Many vendors will charge per-user-course-access fees. For example, in addition to upfront vendor licensing fees, the activity of 100 users per year accessing 20 courses and tests at $5 per access would equal $10,000 in “user fees.” Best to read the fine print.
  • Determine the degree of customization available – such as company logo on access pages, costs for reporting, timing of reporting, security protocols for UserID assignment (internal vs external staff), etc.
  • Time for Training staff to learn how to upload courses, assign courses, create curriculums, enroll/manage users, manage gradebook and reporting in the vendor system. Make sure the vendor has sufficient training and/or help desk resources.
  • Cost to acquire/build course content (SCORM complaint)
  • Time to establish course and LMS organization naming conventions and user groups, upload courses, design curriculums, transfer student records, etc.
  • Establish operational back-up – that is, people – within IT and Training who can respond when primary resources are unavailable, leave the company, etc.

Online Learning Management can be a significant asset to your business. Effective due diligence will enable you to accurately manage all cost and capacity elements while receiving and/or delivering expert Learning Management services.


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Business Loans In Canada: Financing Solutions Via Alternative Finance & Traditional Funding

Business loans and finance for a business just may have gotten good again? The pursuit of credit and funding of cash flow solutions for your business often seems like an eternal challenge, even in the best of times, let alone any industry or economic crisis. Let’s dig in.

Since the 2008 financial crisis there’s been a lot of change in finance options from lenders for corporate loans. Canadian business owners and financial managers have excess from everything from peer-to-peer company loans, varied alternative finance solutions, as well of course as the traditional financing offered by Canadian chartered banks.

Those online business loans referenced above are popular and arose out of the merchant cash advance programs in the United States. Loans are based on a percentage of your annual sales, typically in the 15-20% range. The loans are certainly expensive but are viewed as easy to obtain by many small businesses, including retailers who sell on a cash or credit card basis.

Depending on your firm’s circumstances and your ability to truly understand the different choices available to firms searching for SME COMMERCIAL FINANCE options. Those small to medium sized companies ( the definition of ‘ small business ‘ certainly varies as to what is small – often defined as businesses with less than 500 employees! )

How then do we create our road map for external financing techniques and solutions? A simpler way to look at it is to categorize these different financing options under:

Debt / Loans

Asset Based Financing

Alternative Hybrid type solutions

Many top experts maintain that the alternative financing solutions currently available to your firm, in fact are on par with Canadian chartered bank financing when it comes to a full spectrum of funding. The alternative lender is typically a private commercial finance company with a niche in one of the various asset finance areas

If there is one significant trend that’s ‘ sticking ‘it’s Asset Based Finance. The ability of firms to obtain funding via assets such as accounts receivable, inventory and fixed assets with no major emphasis on balance sheet structure and profits and cash flow ( those three elements drive bank financing approval in no small measure ) is the key to success in ABL ( Asset Based Lending ).

Factoring, aka ‘ Receivable Finance ‘ is the other huge driver in trade finance in Canada. In some cases, it’s the only way for firms to be able to sell and finance clients in other geographies/countries.

The rise of ‘ online finance ‘ also can’t be diminished. Whether it’s accessing ‘ crowdfunding’ or sourcing working capital term loans, the technological pace continues at what seems a feverish pace. One only has to read a business daily such as the Globe & Mail or Financial Post to understand the challenge of small business accessing business capital.

Business owners/financial mgrs often find their company at a ‘ turning point ‘ in their history – that time when financing is needed or opportunities and risks can’t be taken. While putting or getting new equity in the business is often impossible, the reality is that the majority of businesses with SME commercial finance needs aren’t, shall we say, ‘ suited’ to this type of funding and capital raising. Business loan interest rates vary with non-traditional financing but offer more flexibility and ease of access to capital.

We’re also the first to remind clients that they should not forget govt solutions in business capital. Two of the best programs are the GovernmentSmall Business Loan Canada (maximum availability = $ 1,000,000.00) as well as the SR&ED program which allows business owners to recapture R&D capital costs. Sred credits can also be financed once they are filed.

Those latter two finance alternatives are often very well suited to business start up loans. We should not forget that asset finance, often called ‘ ABL ‘ by those Bay Street guys, can even be used as a loan to buy a business.

If you’re looking to get the right balance of liquidity and risk coupled with the flexibility to grow your business seek out and speak to a trusted, credible and experienced Canadian business financing advisor with a track record of business finance success who can assist you with your funding needs.