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Tread Carefully With New Treasury ETFs

Ameristock, manager of the very successful (AMSTX) Ameristock fund, is moving further into the exchange-traded fund space.

Earlier this year, Ameristock made headlines by launching the U.S Oil (USO) fund, the first ETF to track the commodity. Now, Ameristock has filed to roll out fixed-income ETFs based on Treasuries with different maturities.

There will be five separate ETFs, with the funds based on Treasuries with one-year, two-year, five-year, 10-year and 20-year maturities. All of the funds are expected to have a 0.15% expense ratio.

Barclays, the bank behind iShares ETFs, offers several bond ETFs. But instead of targeting a specific maturity, the iShares funds -- iShares Lehman 1-3 Year Treasury (SHY), iShares Lehman 7-10 Year Treasury (IEF) and the iShares Lehman 20+ year Treasury Bond (TLT) -- target a range of time.

Ameristock's new bond ETFs will be more of a benefit to people who trade actively, or to institutional managers, who now will have a fast and easy way to more narrowly manage duration, make short-term directional bets on interest rates, and quickly reallocate the makeup of their bond portfolios.

Unfortunately, these funds may not be right for do-it-yourself investors looking for steady income.

According to the Ameristock prospectus , the bonds (or notes) owned in each fund will be from the most recent auction for that maturity -- sort of. Each of the funds will blend together maturities, and possibly futures contracts, to "create" the yield associated with the targeted maturity for each given ETF.

The downside of this strategy is that investors are not locking in what might be a favorable yield.

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