Oh, Jesus Christ.
Remember “long Jesus?” If not, that’s ok. The reference there is to the “Inspire Global Hope ETF” which goes by the ticker: BLES.
We lampooned BLES earlier this year in “Long Jesus: For Only 6 Times The Cost, You Can Be A ‘Biblically Responsible’ Investor.”
We were going to leave these funds alone, but then, this popped up today on the ol’ BBG:
Bible-based exchange-traded funds are attracting investors who want to support companies perceived as meshing with their value systems. Three such vehicles were started this year under the Inspire nameplate: Inspire Global Hope ETF (BLES), the Inspire Small/Mid Cap Impact ETF (ISMD) and the Inspire Corporate Bond Impact ETF (IBD). The first two began Feb. 28 and have posted respective returns of 8.9% and 2.9%, slightly trailing their indexes. Since they launched, the S&P 500 has registered a total return of 7.3%. The debt fund started in July and is up 0.8%. Another fund in registration, the James Biblically Responsible Investment ETF (JBRI) will screen out companies found to be “objectionable” from a biblical perspective, including abortion, pornography, alcohol, tobacco and gambling, while applying a proprietary factor model to enhance returns. Unlike Inspire’s funds, JBRI will hold only U.S. companies. Top holdings in BLES, which picks companies whose values are deemed to be consistent with the Bible, include Dollar Tree, CF Industries and Devon Energy. Many of these are also held by the politically oriented Point Bridge GOP Stock Tracker ETF (MAGA), launched this month. Both ETFs target audiences that aren’t necessarily trying to track or beat the market but rather wish to align their investments with their value systems.
Ok, so the great thing about these vehicles is that the hypocrisy is just as glaringly obvious as the absurdity.
Allow us to demonstrate. Here are some screen grabs from Inspire’s official website (note the highlights):
That is more than six times what you would pay for SPY and on the bond fund, it’s four times what you’d pay for LQD.
And what do you get when you pay six times the cost of SPY for BLES? Well we’re glad you asked. You get the kind of “innovative” approach that leads to the discovery of such “under-the-radar” names as: Michael Kors, Apache, and US Steel. As you can see from the screenshot below, you’ll also get access to the kind of “out-of-the-box” thinking that uncovers opportunities in little known currencies like: US dollars and British pounds:
We imagine the folks at Inspire spend a lot of time thinking about what Jesus would do.
Do you know what Jesus most assuredly wouldn’t do? He wouldn’t charge people six times the cost of SPY, knowing full well that the odds of beating SPY’s returns over the long-run are slim.
Then again, as Bloomberg notes above, “both ETFs target audiences that aren’t necessarily trying to track or beat the market but rather wish to align their investments with their value systems.” That assumes your “value system” includes a love for fossil fuel companies, overpriced handbags, and good ol’ American steel.
Inspire’s website says this: “All Inspire ETF’s meet biblically responsible investing (BRI) standards.”
Those “standards” evidently do not include: avoiding charging people too much.
Even if Jesus himself were managing these funds and he did see fit to charge 61bps, at least then you would know that your money was (by definition) being invested according to the wishes of Jesus.
Whereas these guys are charging 61bps for the privilege of telling you what they think Jesus would invest in.
I’ll say one thing for them: they’ve got a lot of balls.
Much like another “Jesus”…