Equity: U.S. - Large Cap Value
The fiercely competitive US Large Cap Value segment holds 18 ETFs with a wide variation in fees, liquidity and exposure. Cost is one of the key differentiating factors in the space: Expense
“IWD is a giant not only in AUM, but also in trading volume” ratios range from 7 bps to as much as 80 bps. Strategies vary widely here too. Investors can choose funds like MGV that track a broad plain-vanilla index, or funds like GVT that bring an element of active management to the space. Equal-weight and fundamentally weighted portfolios are also an option for those investors seeking alternative strategies. Fees and strategies show some correlation: Plain-vanilla funds tend to charge less; those with fancy strategies tend to charge more.
The strategy and selection universe each fund uses affects how well each captures the US large-cap value market. FTA serves as an example of a fund that uses a quant-based methodology resulting in a portfolio heavily tilted toward midcap equities. Even funds like IWX, SCHV and VOOV that track well-known plain vanilla indexes are still subject to significant industry tilts.
While many value indexes allow style overlap, there are a few that sort stocks in either growth, value or core without any overlapping. RPV distinguishes itself from its peers for having a "pure value" selection and weighting scheme– its index selects and weights stocks base on S&P's proprietary "value scores." The resulting portfolio is the most "pure value" portfolio in our view, making RPV our Analyst Pick of the segment.
Liquidity is also a huge differentiator in the segment. IWD is a giant not only in AUM ($20+ billion), but also in its median daily volume—well over $100 million. This is a stark contrast to about half of segment funds trading below $1 million on a daily basis. To choose between funds tracking the same index, compare Tradability (average spreads, daily volume and block liquidity) and median tracking difference, not just the headline fee. Trading costs matter even to the buy-and-hold crowd for rebalancing, as well as the first and final trades. Lastly, check asset levels before pulling the trigger—not all ETFs here have billions in AUM like IWD and VTV. Fund closure risk looms for GVT, SYV and EZY. (Insight updated 03/22/17)
All Funds (21)
SCHV $3.23 B 3234463895.8 Lowest expense ratio
IWX $230.23 M 230227150 Pure large-cap
JKF $390.12 M 390115200 Concentrated in top 10 holdings
SPYV $362.81 M 362808603.46542 Underweight healthcare and technology
VOOV $700.01 M 700005000 Midcaps
IVE $13.94 B 13938096060 Very liquid
VONV $1.01 B 1005345000 Heavy financial exposure
IWD $36.94 B 36935929080 Most AUM and liquidity
PWV $1.25 B 1250952000 Overweight healthcare
FTA $996.49 M 996486298.662 Tiered-weighting
RPV $1.05 B 1054034708.216 Pure Value
VTV $30.47 B 30469129798.1 Cost efficient
MGV $1.61 B 1613895091.9 Mega-cap focus
FVAL $30.06 M 30062970 N/A
EZY $70.95 M 70947100 Medium closure risk
PXLV $85.69 M 85689600 "pure" value
SYV $5.93 M 5931659.7 Active, very low AUM
DVP $88.51 M 88506000 new; trade with care
SPVU $3.1 M 3103041.0301 fundamental scoring
NULV $6.45 M 6446025 N/A
GVT $5.66 M 5660330.06 High closure risk
ETF.com Grade as 03/16/17
Equity: U.S. - Large Cap Value
ETF.com Efficiency Insight
From an Efficiency point of view, the two primary distinguishing factors within the US Large Cap Value segment are fees and fund closure risk. The expense ratios of the segment's ETFs
“GVT stands out for high closure risk” fall within two tiers. In the first tier are funds that charge between 7 and 20 bps. In the second tier are funds with fees of 25 bps or more. Investors interested in a plain-vanilla, passively-managed fund should look to the cheaper first tier. Unfortunately, those looking for a more specialized strategy will likely find it in the higher tier of expense ratios.
About half of the segment falls within the first tier. SCHV gets the honors for lowest fee, with its expense ratio of 7 bps. Vanguards VTV and MGV follow with 9 bp and 12 bp expense ratios, respectively. VOOV offers exposure to the S&P 500 Value Index for 15 bps, beating out IVE and SPYV—funds that track the same index. Importantly, all funds within the top level also have a low risk of closure, in part because AUM is also heavily concentrated within the first tier—IWD and VTV hold over $35 billion in assets combined.
The second tier of expense ratios within the segment stands in stark contrast from the first. These tend to be funds that offer a unique methodology or strategy in their approach to the space. Columbia's GVT charges 74 bps for an actively-managed take on the segment, while SSgA's SYV charges a less eye-popping but not cheap 60 bps for its fundamental take on value. Both GVT and SYV stand out in another way: Elevated closure risk based on low AUM, poor liquidity and other factors. WisdomTree's EZY also carries elevated closure risk for similar reasons. Buying into a fund that shutters would be particularly annoying in a segment with multibillion AUM peers.
Returning to the top tier funds, fees matter, but small differences in expense ratios shouldn't dominate your decision-making. (Insight updated 03/22/17)
ETF.com Tradability Insight
In a segment where many plain-vanilla funds track similar or identical indexes at low fees, Tradability matters. The funds land in two distinct groups here. Funds that trade over $1 million
“IWD is the undisputed segment leader when it comes to liquidity.” in median daily volume occupy the first level, while funds that trade below $1 million on most days fall in the second level. Spreads vary in the segment but tend to stay tighter in the first level, while they can become uncomfortably wide in the second.
IWD is the undisputed segment leader when it comes to liquidity. The fund trades well over $100 million on most days at one-cent spreads, offering deep on-screen liquidity to small and large investors. VTV and IVE are a close second and third, with $50 million in median daily volume and similarly tight spreads. These funds offer ample liquidity and garner high scores to prove it.
Farther down but still in the top tier are funds that trade just a few million each day. Funds like FTA exceed our minimum standards for liquidity, but should still be treated with caution by traders. Bid/ask spreads also tend to be a bit wider.
In the second tier of liquidity, bid/ask spreads range anywhere from 4 bps to 20 bps—not outrageous, but something to be careful of. Small investors will find it difficult to trade funds such as SYV and GVT.
Fortunately, most funds within the segment hold highly liquid baskets—an indication that large investors can get a fair deal when using a liquidity provider. However, even with a liquidity provider, be careful with funds that have particularly poor retail liquidity, since market makers will find it hard to unload their hedges in these ETFs. (Insight updated 03/22/17)
ETF.com Fit Insight
Our Fit analysis performs two roles here. First, it highlights which funds capture the broad market as defined by our segment benchmark. Secondly, it defines the different plays available
“EZY, FTA, and PWV differ greatly in their attempt to beat the market” to investors interested in the space.
MGV and VTV do an excellent job in capturing what we've defined as the market. Both track value indexes that use similar selection criteria for holdings, with VTV reaching a bit further down the cap spectrum.
Funds like IWX, and SCHV also score well in Fit as a result of their style-focused weighting schemes, which help the funds to mimic the quasi-market-cap weighting of our segment benchmark. These funds have basically identical risk and fundamental characteristics to our benchmark (though it should be noted that none manage to match the benchmark's yield). Distinctions between funds like these tend to be granular. Matching our benchmark is perhaps less to the point here than using the benchmark as a common yardstick.
Three funds track the S&P 500 Value Index, and as a result, exhibit similar characteristics in Fit. VOOV, IVE and SPYV all dip heavily into the midcap space. In similar fashion, IWD and VONV also track the same index—the Russell 1000 Value Index. Both funds dip heavily into smaller firms, with a significant portion of their portfolios exposed to midcap stocks.
Funds like EZY, FTA, and PWV differ greatly from our segment benchmark in their attempt to beat the market. EZY's cumulative earnings screen produces an unexpected and massive bias to consumer cyclicals. Meanwhile, FTA focuses intensely on smaller firms, with 40% of its portfolio exposed to midcaps. Finally, PWV uses a quant-based strategy to pick winners, which leads to some unusual sector tilts. It's worked; the fund has outperformed our benchmark consistently over the last 5 years, while taking on only slightly higher risk, boosting its Fit score.
Returning to the plain-jane funds, the size universe from which large cap value stocks are drawn—top 200, 500 or 1,000 stocks—matters at least as much as the suite of style screens used to pick the stocks. Investors indifferent to these distinctions should at least be mindful of how ETFs from different parent indexes might combine with the rest of their portfolio, with an eye toward unwanted coverage gaps or overlaps.
Lastly, a note about RPV. Our choice of the MSCI USA Large Cap Value Index as the segment benchmark is in keeping with the benchmark selections we've made in other segments. Sticking to one family of indexes allows for an apples-to-apples comparison of funds between segments; for example, the U.S. Large Cap segment, which takes the MSCI USA Large Cap Index as its benchmark. Unfortunately, there is no expert consensus on the best method to measure value and growth characteristics, which means some amount of subjectivity is unavoidable. While MSCI's approach is valid, we favor a pure-style strategy which excludes core stocks at the center of the value-growth spectrum. That said, we feel that RPV provides the best pure-value approach to the segment, which is why it earns a place on our Analyst Pick list for the segment. (Insight updated 03/22/17)