Going for Growth: Small-Cap ETFs Win Big | ETF Trends

Small-cap ETFs handily outperformed the S&P 500 in August as investors preferred riskier asset classes over the larger, more-established companies that have been in favor through most of 2012.

For example, the small-cap iShares Russell 2000 (NYSEArca: IWM) rose about 5.6% for the month while SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY) gained 3.2%.

For those investors with higher risk tolerance, small-cap exchange traded funds offer a growth investment for the long term. As the U.S. equity market bounces back, the risk endured with a small-cap investment will pay off if a recovery gets underway. [Small-Cap ETF Strength Augurs Well for Market]

“Strong bull markets tend to be characterized by leadership and outperformance in small-cap stocks as money grows more confident about the future and positions for higher risk with higher return potential,” writes Pension Partners chief investment strategist Michael Gayed at MarketWatch.

“Arguably, growth firms could be just the kick that many portfolios need as these offer above-average revenue and earnings growth with high price-to-book ratio but yield lower than the value and blend counterparts, making them interesting choices as yields are already depressed and not really up to historical levels,” Eric Dutram wrote for Zacks.

There are plenty of small-cap focused exchange traded funds on the market. For those investors seeking more exposure to U.S. equities with some diversification, the following small-cap funds growth have been good performers in 2012. All 3 have outperformed the S&P 500 in a 52-week period. They are heavy on information technology and healthcare sector exposure.

  • Vanguard Small-Cap Growth ETF (NYSEArca: VBKThis ETF is up 12.17% so far this year. However, like many on this list, the yield is lacking coming in at just 0.48% annually. The trading volume is healthy, with about 1 million shares trading per day and the expense is about 10 basis points. [Risk On: Small-Cap ETFs Lead the Way]
  • iShares Morningstar  Small Growth Index fund (NYSEArca: JKKThe fund has delivered returns of about 22.32% over the last year and 10.48% year-to-date. It pays an annual dividend of about 0.29%. There are about $92.1 million in AUM.
  • iShares Small Cap 600 Growth Index Fund (NYSEArca: IJTWith AUM of $1.6 billion, the fund returned about 23.80% in the last one-year period (as of August 24) and 10.48% year-to-date. The fund costs 0.25% and has a yield of 0.59%.

Tisha Guerrero contributed to this article. 

Full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own SPY and IWM.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.