Smart-Beta, Small-Cap ETFs Could Outperform | ETF Trends

When picking out small-capitalization stock exposure, exchange traded fund investors may be better of with funds based on alternative indices that weed out weaker companies.

For instance, small-cap ETFs like the WisdomTree SmallCap Dividend Fund (NYSEArca: DES), PowerShares Fundamental Pure Small Cap Core Portfolio (NYSEArca: PXSC) and First Trust Small Cap Core AlphaDEX Fund (NYSEArca: FYX) track alternative or smart-beta indices that don’t follow traditional market-capitalization weighted methodologies, as opposed to the widely monitored iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSEArca: IWM), which is based of the Russell 2000 benchmark. [A Small-Cap ETF With an Advantage]

According to a recent research note, “Size matters, if You Control Your Junk,” conducted by US hedge fund AQR, along with Tobias Moskowitz, a finance professor at Chicago Booth, small-cap stocks outperform large-caps when quality of the companies is taken into account, reports James Mackintosh for Financial Times.

Controlling for quality/junk also explains interactions between size and other return characteristics such as value and momentum,” according to the research paper.

Many small-cap stock investors have been disappointed by last year’s nine percentage point underperformance to large-cap stocks. However, the research paper explains that investors should compare like with like. For instance, small high-quality companies outperformed larger high-quality companies, while small junk beat out large junk stocks.

Consequently, funds and ETFs based off benchmark indices like the Russell 2000 or the FTSE Small Cap, which carry more junky stocks at the bottom end of the market, would offset potential benefits of quality small-cap stocks.