Best VIX ETFs for Q2 2022

VIXM, VXZ, and VIXY are the best VIX ETFs for Q2 2022

Volatility surged to the highest levels since 2008 in March 2020, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and its dramatic impact on the global and U.S. economies. It has moderated since then but has moved higher over the past week amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Many investors have sought to profit from wild market swings through volatility exchange-traded funds (ETFs), many of them linked to the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX).

VIX is a real-time index representing the market’s expectation of 30-day forward-looking volatility, as derived from the prices of S&P 500 index options. It provides a measure of market risk and investor sentiment (also known as market sentiment) and is popularly known as the “fear index.”

Key Takeaways

  • The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) spiked in March 2020 and remains at historically elevated levels amid global supply chain disruptions and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • The VIX exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with the best one-year trailing total returns are VIXM, VXZ, and VIXY.
  • All three of these ETFs hold futures contracts to track market volatility.

The VIX cannot be invested in directly, but sophisticated investors can use VIX ETFs to track market volatility via holdings of VIX futures contracts. The price of these funds will rise and fall in tandem with volatility, but at different rates depending on how they are constructed. These ETFs are usually held over relatively short periods to take advantage of rapid changes in volatility, as opposed to being part of a long-term, buy-and-hold investing strategy. They are very complex sorts of financial instruments and not intended for beginner investors.

There are four VIX ETFs that trade in the U.S., excluding inverse and leveraged funds as well as those with less than $50 million in assets under management (AUM). The VIX has risen 42.7% over the past year. The S&P 500’s total return over that same yearlong period is 11.9%, as of March 1, 2022. While sophisticated investors tend to trade VIX ETFs on a very short-term basis, the best-performing VIX ETF on an annual basis is the ProShares VIX Mid-Term Futures ETF (VIXM).

We examine the three best VIX ETFs below. All numbers for each ETF below are as of March 1, 2022.

ProShares VIX Mid-Term Futures ETF (VIXM)

  • Performance Over One-Year: -16.2%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.85%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • Three-Month Average Daily Volume: 150,458
  • Assets Under Management: $96.7 million
  • Inception Date: Jan. 3, 2011
  • Issuer: ProShares

VIXM is structured as a commodity pool, a type of private investment that combines investor contributions to trade commodities futures and options. The fund tracks the S&P 500 VIX Mid-Term Futures Index, which measures the returns of a portfolio of monthly VIX futures contracts having a weighted average of five months to expiration. VIXM holds Cboe VIX futures contracts to provide investors with returns based on increases in the expected volatility of the S&P 500. This ETF holds relatively longer-dated futures contracts. The fund does not track the VIX and should be expected to perform very differently from the fear gauge. It is intended for sophisticated investors with a short-term investment horizon who are able to monitor their investments daily.

iPath Series B S&P 500 VIX Mid-Term Futures ETN (VXZ)

  • Performance Over One-Year: -16.2%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.89%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • Three-Month Average Daily Volume: 50,245
  • Assets Under Management: $62.8 million
  • Inception Date: Jan. 17, 2018
  • Issuer: Barclays Capital

VXZ is structured as an exchange-traded note (ETN), a type of unsecured debt security that does not make interest payments and has stock-like characteristics. It tracks the S&P 500 VIX Mid-Term Futures Index Total Return, which provides exposure to a daily rolling long position in the fourth-, fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-month VIX futures contracts and reflects market participants’ views on the future direction of the VIX. Since the fund is composed of longer-dated futures contracts, it is likely to exhibit lower correlation with the spot VIX. But it is still intended only for sophisticated investors with a short-term focus. As an ETN, VXZ avoids tracking error but may expose investors to credit risk.

ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (VIXY)

  • Performance Over One-Year: -54.9%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.85%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • Three-Month Average Daily Volume: 9,214,336
  • Assets Under Management: $347.5 million
  • Inception Date: Jan. 3, 2011
  • Issuer: ProShares

VIXY is structured as a commodity pool that seeks to track the performance of the S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Index, which measures the returns of a portfolio comprised of monthly VIX futures contracts with a weighted average of one month to expiration. The ETF holds Cboe VIX futures contracts to provide investors with a way to profit on increases in the expected volatility of the S&P 500. It holds short-dated futures contracts, which increases its correlation with the VIX. VIXY is designed to be used as a short-term trading instrument and should not be held for long periods of time in a buy-and-hold portfolio.

The comments, opinions, and analyses expressed herein are for informational purposes only and should not be considered individual investment advice or recommendations to invest in any security or adopt any investment strategy. While we believe the information provided herein is reliable, we do not warrant its accuracy or completeness. The views and strategies described in our content may not be suitable for all investors. Because market and economic conditions are subject to rapid change, all comments, opinions, and analyses contained within our content are rendered as of the date of the posting and may change without notice. The material is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any country, region, market, industry, investment, or strategy.

Article Sources
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  2. ETF Database. "ETF Screener."

  3. ProShares. “VIX Mid-Term Futures ETF (VIXM).”

  4. ETF Database. “ProShares VIX Mid-Term Futures ETF (VIXM).”

  5. Barclays, iPath Exchange Traded Notes. “iPath® Series B S&P 500® VIX Mid-Term Futures™ ETN (VXZ).”

  6. ETF Database. “iPath Series B S&P 500® VIX Mid-Term Futures ETN (VXZ).”

  7. ProShares. "VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (VIXY)."

  8. ETF Database. "ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (VIXY)."

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