New Calamos ETF promises ‘100% downside protection.’ How it works

A new ETF designed to shield investors from the risk of market volatility starts trading on Wednesday. 

The Calamos S&P 500 Structured Alt Protection ETF (CPSM) promises to deliver investors “100% downside protection” against the index’s losses over a one-year outcome period, according the firm’s news release.

Calamos’ head of ETFs Matt Kaufman helped build the new product.

“There’s no tricks. There’s no magic,” he told CNBC’s “ETF Edge” on Monday. “This is the secret sauce.”

Kaufman explained the new ETF enters into three options positions. Investors in the fund are subject to limits on the extent to which they can capture gains tied to the S&P 500.

“They all work together. It’s a fully funded options package that delivers the upside of the S&P 500 to a cap with 100% capital protection over a 365-day outcome period,” he said. “Then at the end of that year, the options reset, stay in the ETF and keep on going.”

The fund will have an annual expense ratio of 0.69%.

In order to receive the full downside protection against losses in the S&P 500 that the fund promises, Kaufman noted investors must buy it Wednesday when it hits the market.

“If you buy in on day one, you get that 100% protection,” he said. “[But] even day two [or] day three, there’s probably opportunities to buy in all along the way.”

The fund is just one of a suite of 12 structured protection ETFs the firm plans to launch over the course of the next year. Upcoming funds include those aiming to protect against losses tied to the Nasdaq 100 and Russell 2000 benchmarks. 

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