The Skinny on Spinoff Funds

Fund Watch

The Skinny on Spinoff Funds

If you want to take the fund route to invest in spinoffs, your choices are limited.

Your choices are few if you want to invest in spinoffs through a fund. The purest play is Guggenheim Spin-Off ETF (symbol CSD), an exchange-traded fund that tracks an index of about 40 companies disgorged within the past 30 months. Fund tracker Morningstar calls the ETF a mid-cap fund, but in truth it invests in companies of all sizes, with a tilt toward smaller firms (58% of assets at last report). Among its best-known holdings are Philip Morris International, Time Warner Cable and AOL.

SEE ALSO: Our Special Report on Exchange-Traded Funds

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The ETF has performed impressively since the end of the last bear market. It earned 65% in 2009 and nearly 4% in 2011, a rough year for stocks. But its five-year return—an annualized 0.5% through May 4—still suffers the effects of a disastrous 55% loss in 2008. The annual expense ratio is 0.65%—high for an ETF.

Keeley Asset Management runs several mutual funds that specialize in “companies in transition,” including those restructuring through asset sales and spinoffs. Keeley All Cap Value Fund A (KACVX)—which invests, as its name suggests, in companies of all sizes—holds shares of Kraft, Covidien, Williams Cos. (which just spun off WPX Energy) and Pfizer, which is weighing a plan to divest its animal-health unit.


As is the case with the Guggenheim ETF, the Keeley fund’s five-year record, an annualized loss of 0.9%, has been dragged down by a big loss (49%) in 2008. That trails Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index by an average of 1.2 percentage points per year.

The Keeley fund’s biggest shortcoming is that it charges a 4.5% front-end commission. If you can buy the fund without paying the load, or if you qualify for the no-load, institutional class (KACIX), it’s a reasonable choice. If you can’t avoid the load, take a pass.

Kathy Kristof is a contributing editor to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and author of the book Investing 101. Follow her on Twitter. Or email her at