Research on holdings is necessary due diligence because an ETF’s performance is only as good as its holdings’ performance. No matter how cheap, if it holds bad stocks, the ETF’s performance will be bad.
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From the start, avoid any ETFs below a $100 million market cap. Anything smaller puts you at risk of inadequate liquidity, too large a bid/ask spread and tracking error. Even $100 million can be too low. The bigger the market cap the less trading risk. There are plenty of free services that allow you to screen out the smaller ETFs and minimize your trading risk.
The focus of this article, however, is investing risk or the relative investment potential of the ETF.
Competition for Lipper and Morningstar is “heating up” according to fund-industry expert Chuck Jaffe. Research based on past performance is losing favor as investor recognize its lack of rigor and value.
There are 36 “large cap value” ETFs. Per Figure 1, these 36 ETFs have drastically different stock holdings and, therefore, allocations. The lowest number of holdings is 30 while the highest is 1178.
How do investors pick the ETF that will deliver the best performance?
We recommend investors avoid all utility sector ETFs. There are no ETFs in the utility sector with an attractive-or-better rating. None of the ETFs rank better than the S&P500.
Investors should sell the following dangerous-rated utility sector ETFs:
ProShares Ultra Semiconductors (USD) is our top pick among the 25 ETFs we analyzed for our 3Q11 update on the “Best & Worst Tech Sector ETFs”.
Retail HOLDRS (RTH) is our top pick for consumer discretionary sector ETFs. RTH is one of 51 ETFs that gets an attractive-or-better rating. We rate the investment merit of the top six consumer discretionary sector ETFs based on our coverage of 471 stocks in this sector. Per our first-quarter-2011 review of U.S. Equity Sector ETFs,…
Select Sector SPDR-Consumer Staples (XLP) is our top pick for consumer staples sector ETFs. XLP is one of four ETFs, out of the 270 we currently cover, to get our very attractive rating. We also rate the investment merit of the top five consumer staple sector ETFs.
We recommend avoid or sell all industrial sector ETFs. We also rate the investment merit of the top six industrial sector ETFs.