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The prices of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) can deviate significantly from their net asset values (NAVs), in spite of the arbitrage mechanism that allows authorized participants to create and redeem shares for the underlying portfolios. The deviations, typically within a band of about 200 bps, are larger in funds holding international or illiquid securities. To control for stale pricing of the underlying assets, I introduce a novel approach that uses the cross section of prices on a group of similar ETFs. The average pricing band remains economically significant at about 100 bps, with even larger mispricings in some asset classes. Active trading strategies exploiting such inefficiencies produce substantial abnormal returns before transaction costs, providing further proof of short-term mean reversion in ETF prices.

About the Author(s)

Antti Petajisto
Antti Petajisto

Antti Petajisto is a researcher and portfolio manager at quantPORT, a systematic multi-strategy asset manager and formerly the proprietary trading desk of Jefferies. Previously, he was a portfolio manager and researcher at LMR Partners, a multi-strategy hedge fund, as well as in BlackRock’s Scientific Active Equities group, where he focused on researching new alpha signals and implementing quantitative trading strategies in global equity markets, including emerging markets. Dr. Petajisto has also worked as a finance professor at the Yale School of Management and the NYU Stern School of Business, where he taught MBA courses on investments, portfolio management, and behavioral finance. His academic research includes the development of the Active Share concept for quantifying active portfolio management, performance evaluation of money managers, pricing inefficiencies in exchange-traded funds, and the price impact of passive indexing strategies. Dr. Petajisto has an MSc in engineering physics from the Helsinki University of Technology and a PhD in finance from the MIT Sloan School of Management.