Enticing Mega-Cap ETFs

In a year of pronounced weakness for small-cap stocks, investors have been finding comfort in the largest of the large-caps and embracing mega-cap exchange traded funds.

That has proven to be a wise strategy. In the third quarter, the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSEArca: IWMand the Vanguard Small Cap ETF (NYSEArca: VB) lost an average of 7.3% while the S&P 500 eked out a modest gain.

That is a wide divergence to be sure, but IWM and VB’s laggard status relative to mega-cap ETFs is even more staggering. During the July through September quarter, the Vanguard Mega Cap ETF (NYSEArca: MGC) slightly beat the S&P while the iShares S&P 100 ETF (NYSEArca: OEF) topped its 500-member counterpart by a three-to-one margin. The Guggenheim Russell Top 50 Mega Cap ETF (NYSEArca: XLG) was truly impressive with a 2.1% gain. [Big Stocks Boost These ETFs]

“And with small caps still trading at a significant premium to large caps it seems premature to suggest a buy the dip approach. What is worth considering is setting your research sights on going large, very large. Among large cap stocks, bigger has been better of late,” reports Carla Fried for Y Charts.

MGC, which added nearly $68 million in new assets in the third quarter, has gained a following for its rock-bottom fees of just 0.11%. An interesting point about the ETF is that although it is advertised as a mega-cap ETF, it is home to 304 stocks. By the strictest definition of mega-cap, market caps over $200 billion, only 21 stocks in the U.S. fit the bill.

Still, MGC has modestly outperformed the S&P 500 over the past five years and its deeper bench lends itself to diversification as the ETF’s top-10 holdings combine for just 20.6% of the fund’s weight. That roster includes familiar names and investor favorites such as Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL) and Dow components Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).