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New Airline ETF: It's About the Volatility

Preceding the creation of the ETF, the New York Stock Exchange's Archipeligo Holdings division created the NYSE Arca Global Airline Index (AXGAL).

The index, and the fund, include 25 airline stocks, weighted by market cap. While the fund is 70% domestic and 30% international, just 11 of the holdings are domestic carriers. The initial weighting formula allocated 15% to each of the top three domestic holdings, by market capitalization. They are Continental (CAL), Southwest (LUV - Get Report) and AMR (AMR).

On the international side, the top three holdings each initially accounted for 4.5% of the fund. They are Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and Air France.

Despite including some of the best-known brand names in the world, the fund has not one single large-cap stock, defined as having a market capitalization above $10 billion. Magoon said. Airlines worldwide are either medium-cap or large-cap stocks.

Also contrary to a common perception, Magoon noted that airline shares do not historically trade in inverse proportion to oil prices. In other words, it is not always true that because oil prices decline, airline shares rise, although this is what happened on Monday.

But between 2001 and 2008, as oil prices have fluctuated, the reverse correlation in airline shares has been only about 25%, Magoon said. "Over the long term, airlines have other costs such as labor, and exposure to other things that move the stocks upward or downward," such as terrorist events or the SARS epidemic, he said.

Claymore's ETF will be a positive for the airline industry, said veteran analyst Helane Becker of Jessup and Lamont. "The market could use this," she said. "It's a way to get exposure to the airline industry without necessarily having to pick stocks."

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