How to Find the Best Style ETFs 2Q17

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Finding the best ETFs is an increasingly difficult task in a world with so many to choose from. How can you pick with so many choices available?

Don’t Trust ETF Labels

There are at least 82 different All Cap Blend ETFs and at least 294 ETFs across twelve styles. Do investors need 24+ choices on average per style? How different can the ETFs be?

Those 82 different All Cap Blend ETFs are very different. With anywhere from eight to 4,646 holdings, many of these All Cap Blend ETFs have drastically different portfolios, creating drastically different investment implications.

The same is true for the ETFs in any other style, as each offers a very different mix of good and bad stocks. Large Cap Blend ranks first for stock selection. Small Cap Value ranks last. Details on the Best & Worst ETFs in each style are here.

A Recipe for Paralysis by Analysis

We think the large number of All Cap Blend (or any other) style ETFs hurts investors more than it helps because too many options can be paralyzing. It is simply not possible for the majority of investors to properly assess the quality of so many ETFs. Analyzing ETFs, done with the proper diligence, is far more difficult than analyzing stocks because it means analyzing all the stocks within each ETF. As stated above, there can be as many as 4,646 stock or more for one ETF.

Anyone focused on fulfilling the fiduciary duty of care recognizes that analyzing the holdings of an ETF is critical to finding the best ETF. Figure 1 shows our top-rated ETF for each style.

Figure 1: The Best ETF in Each Style

Sources: New Constructs, LLC and company filings

Amongst the ETFs in Figure 1, ValueShares U.S. Quantitative Value (QVAL) ranks first overall, First Trust Long/Short Equity (FTLS) ranks second, and PowerShares Dynamic Large Cap Value (PWV) ranks third. Guggenheim S&P 400 Midcap Pure Growth (RFG) ranks last.Sources:   New Constructs, LLC and company filings

How to Avoid “The Danger Within”

Why do you need to know the holdings of ETFs before you buy?

You need to be sure you do not buy an ETF that might blow up. Buying an ETF without analyzing its holdings is like buying a stock without analyzing its business and finances. No matter how cheap, if it holds bad stocks, the ETF’s performance will be bad. Don’t just take my word for it, see what Barron’s says on this matter.

PERFORMANCE OF FUND’S HOLDINGS = PERFORMANCE OF FUND

Analyzing each holding within funds is no small task. Our Robo-Analyst technology enables us to perform this diligence with scale and provide the research needed to fulfill the fiduciary duty of care. More of the biggest names in the financial industry (see At BlackRock, Machines Are Rising Over Managers to Pick Stocks) are now embracing technology to leverage machines in the investment research process. Technology may be the only solution to the dual mandate for research: cut costs and fulfill the fiduciary duty of care. Investors, clients, advisors and analysts deserve the latest in technology to get the diligence required to make prudent investment decisions.

If Only Investors Could Find Funds Rated by Their Holdings

Our ETF ratings leverage our stock coverage. We rate ETFs based on the aggregated ratings of the stocks each ETF holds.

ValueShares U.S. Quantitative Value (QVAL) is not only the top-rated Mid Cap Value ETF, but is also the overall best style ETF out of the 294 style ETFs that we cover.

The mutual funds in Figure 1 all receive an Attractive-or-better rating. However, with so few assets in some of the funds, it is clear investors haven’t identified these quality mutual funds.

This article originally published on May 3, 2017.

Disclosure: David Trainer, Kenneth James and Kyle Guske II receive no compensation to write about any specific stock, style, or theme.

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