To seek its investment objective, as a cash reserve, for liquidity purposes, or as “cover” for positions it has taken, each Fund may invest all or part of its assets in cash or cash equivalents, which include, but are not limited to, short-term money market instruments, U.S. government securities, floating and variable rate notes, commercial paper, certificates of deposit, time deposits, bankers’ acceptances or repurchase agreements and other short-term liquid instruments secured by U.S. government securities. Each Fund may invest in money market instruments issued by foreign and domestic governments, financial institutions, corporations and other entities in the U.S. or in any foreign country. Each Fund may also invest in pooled investment vehicles that invest in, and themselves qualify as, money market instruments.
The Funds may invest in equity securities. The market price of securities owned by a Fund may go up or down, sometimes rapidly or unpredictably. Securities may decline in value due to factors affecting securities markets generally or particular industries represented in the securities markets. The value of a security may decline due to general market conditions not specifically related to a particular company, such as real or perceived adverse economic conditions, changes in the general outlook for corporate earnings, changes in interest or currency rates, or adverse investor sentiment generally. A security’s value may also decline due to factors that affect a particular industry or industries, such as labor shortages or increased production costs and competitive conditions within an industry. The value of a security may also decline for a number of reasons that directly relate to the issuer, such as management performance, financial leverage and reduced demand for the issuer’s goods or services. Equity securities generally have greater price volatility than fixed income securities, and the Funds are particularly sensitive to these market risks.
As a result of compounding, for periods greater than one day, the use of leverage tends to cause the performance of a Fund to vary from its benchmark performance times the stated multiple or inverse multiple in the Fund’s investment objective, before accounting for fees and fund expenses. Compounding affects all investments, but has a more significant impact on geared funds. Four factors significantly affect how close daily compounded returns are to longer-term benchmark returns times the fund’s multiple: the length of the holding period, benchmark volatility, whether the multiple is positive or inverse, and its leverage level. Longer holding periods, higher benchmark volatility, inverse exposure and greater leverage each can lead to returns farther from the multiple times the benchmark return. As the tables below show, particularly during periods of higher benchmark volatility, compounding will cause longer term results to vary from the benchmark performance times the stated multiple in the Fund’s investment objective. This effect becomes more pronounced as volatility increases.
The value of the bitcoin futures contracts is generally based on the expected value of bitcoin at a future point in time, specifically, the expiration date of the bitcoin futures contracts. Other factors, such as cost of mining, storing and securing bitcoin may affect the value of bitcoin futures. A change in the price of bitcoin today (sometimes referred to as the “spot” price) will not necessarily result in a corresponding movement in the price of the bitcoin futures contracts since the price of the bitcoin futures contracts is based on expectations of the price of bitcoin at a future point in time. Additionally, there is no one centralized source for pricing bitcoin and pricing from one bitcoin exchange to the next can vary widely. Therefore, the value of the bitcoin futures contracts held by the Fund should not be expected to track the price of bitcoin on the Bitcoin Exchange Market.
In the normal course of business, a Fund enters into standardized contracts created by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc. (“ISDA agreements”) with certain counterparties for derivative transactions. These agreements contain, among other conditions, events of default and termination events, and various covenants and representations. Certain of the Fund’s ISDA agreements contain provisions that require the Fund to maintain a pre-determined level of net assets, and/or provide limits regarding the decline of the Fund’s NAV over specific periods of time, which may or may not be exclusive of redemptions. If the Fund were to trigger such provisions and have open derivative positions, at that time counterparties to the ISDA agreements could elect to terminate such ISDA agreements and request immediate payment in an amount equal to the net liability positions, if any, under the relevant ISDA agreement. Pursuant to the terms of its ISDA agreements, the Fund will have already collateralized its liability under such agreements, in some cases only in excess of certain threshold amounts. With uncleared swaps, a Fund bears the risk of loss of the amount expected to be received under a swap agreement in the event of default or bankruptcy of a swap agreement counterparty. If such default occurs, the Fund will have contractual remedies pursuant to the swap agreements, but such remedies may be subject to bankruptcy and insolvency laws that could affect the Fund’s rights as a creditor. Thus, a Fund will typically only enter into uncleared swap agreements with major, global financial institutions that meet the Fund’s standard of creditworthiness. The Funds seek to mitigate risks by generally requiring that the counterparties for each Fund agree to post collateral for the benefit of the Fund, marked to market daily, in an amount approximately equal to what the counterparty owes the Fund subject to certain minimum thresholds, although the Funds may not always be successful. To the extent any such collateral is insufficient or there are delays in accessing the collateral, the Funds will be exposed to the risks described above, including possible delays in recovering amounts as a result of bankruptcy proceedings.
The Funds may enter into swap agreements to gain exposure to an underlying asset without actually purchasing such asset, or to hedge a position including in circumstances in which direct investment is restricted for legal reasons or is otherwise impracticable. Swap agreements are two-party contracts entered into primarily by institutional investors for periods ranging from a day to more than one year. In a standard “swap” transaction, two parties agree to exchange the returns (or differentials in rates of return) earned or realized on a particular pre-determined investment or instrument. The gross return to be exchanged or “swapped” between the parties is calculated with respect to a “notional amount,” e.g., the return on or increase in value of a particular dollar amount invested in a “basket” of securities or an ETF representing a particular index or group of securities.
While cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that are managed through advanced encryption techniques, many governments have taken a cautious approach toward them, fearing their lack of central control and the effects they could have on financial security. Regulators in several countries have warned against cryptocurrency and some have taken concrete regulatory measures to dissuade users. Additionally, many banks do not offer services for cryptocurrencies and can refuse to offer services to virtual-currency companies. Gareth Murphy, a senior central banking officer has stated "widespread use [of cryptocurrency] would also make it more difficult for statistical agencies to gather data on economic activity, which are used by governments to steer the economy". He cautioned that virtual currencies pose a new challenge to central banks' control over the important functions of monetary and exchange rate policy. While traditional financial products have strong consumer protections in place, there is no intermediary with the power to limit consumer losses if bitcoins are lost or stolen. One of the features cryptocurrency lacks in comparison to credit cards, for example, is consumer protection against fraud, such as chargebacks.
There are also purely technical elements to consider. For example, technological advancement in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin result in high up-front costs to miners in the form of specialized hardware and software. Cryptocurrency transactions are normally irreversible after a number of blocks confirm the transaction. Additionally, cryptocurrency can be permanently lost from local storage due to malware or data loss. This can also happen through the destruction of the physical media, effectively removing lost cryptocurrencies forever from their markets.
The Trust is a Delaware statutory trust and registered investment company. The Trust was organized on May 29, 2002, and has authorized capital of unlimited Shares of beneficial interest of no par value which may be issued in more than one class or series. Currently, the Trust consists of multiple separately managed series. The Board of Trustees may designate additional series of beneficial interest and classify Shares of a particular series into one or more classes of that series.
A Precautionary Note to Retail Investors — The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”), a limited trust company and securities depositary that serves as a national clearinghouse for the settlement of trades for its participating banks and broker-dealers, or its nominee will be the registered owner of all outstanding shares of the fund Your ownership of shares will be shown on the records of DTC and the DTC Participant broker through whom you hold the shares. PROSHARES TRUST WILL NOT HAVE ANY RECORD OF YOUR OWNERSHIP. Your account information will be maintained by your broker, who will provide you with account statements, confirmations of your purchases and sales of shares, and tax information. Your broker also will be responsible for furnishing certain cost basis information and ensuring that you receive shareholder reports and other communications from the Fund. Typically, you will receive other services only if your broker offers these services.
The Board oversight of the Trust and the Funds extends to the Trust’s risk management processes. The Board and its Audit Committee consider risk management issues as part of their responsibilities throughout the year at regular and special meetings. The Advisor and other service providers prepare regular reports for Board and Audit Committee meetings that address a variety of risk-related matters, and the Board as a whole or the Audit Committee may also receive special written reports or presentations on a variety of risk issues at the request of the Board or the Audit Committee. For example, the portfolio managers of the Funds meet regularly with the Board to discuss portfolio performance, including investment risk, counterparty risk and the impact on the Funds of investments in particular securities or derivatives. As noted above, given the relatively small size of the Board, the Board determined it is not necessary to adopt a complex leadership structure in order for the Board to effectively exercise its risk oversight function.
To the extent that an Underlying RIC realizes net losses on its investments for a given taxable year, a Fund that invests in the Underlying RIC will not be able to benefit from those losses until (i) the Underlying RIC realizes gains that it can reduce by those losses, or (ii) the Fund recognizes its share of those losses when it disposes of shares in the Underlying RIC. Moreover, when a Fund makes such a disposition, any loss it recognizes will be a capital loss. A Fund will not be able to offset any capital losses from its dispositions of shares of the Underlying RIC against its ordinary income (including distributions deriving from net short-term capital gains realized by the Underlying RIC). In addition, a portion of such capital loss may be long-term, which will first offset the Fund’s capital gains, increasing the likelihood that the Fund’s short-term capital gains will be distributed to shareholders as ordinary income.
ProShare Advisors, pursuant to a separate Management Services Agreement, performs certain administrative services on behalf of the Funds, such as negotiating, coordinating and implementing the Trust’s contractual obligations with the Funds’ service providers; monitoring, overseeing and reviewing the performance of such service providers to ensure adherence to applicable contractual obligations; and preparing or coordinating reports and presentations to the Board of Trustees with respect to such service providers as requested or as deemed necessary. For these services, the Trust pays to ProShare Advisors a fee at the annual rate of 0.10% of average daily net assets for each of the Funds. ProShare Advisors has entered into an Advisory and Management Services Fee Waiver Agreement that waives this management services fee for the Morningstar Alternatives Solution ETF through at least October 31, 2018. Prior to this date, ProShare Advisors may not terminate the arrangement without the approval of the Board.
Trader A is a producer of pork bellies. In order to insure herself against a price drop in pork bellies in the future, she enters a futures contract with Trader B. Trader B uses these pork bellies to manufacture sliced breakfast bacon. Thus, he is not worried that prices might fall in the future – his worry is that prices will go up. Both traders agree that Trader A will sell a metric ton of pork bellies for 1,000 USD 3 months from now. This increases security for both of their businesses. Because a futures contract is a binding contract between two parties, neither party can drop out of the contract: Even if the price for pork bellies is 1,200 USD at the time of execution, trader A is still contractually obliged to sell for 1,000 USD.