No. 6: XLK
Tech stocks continue to be the engine driving U.S. equity markets higher, which explains why readers keep coming back to the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK).
Like QQQ, XLK is a tech sector proxy, but the State Street fund is far more of a pure play. All the biggest S&P 500 tech names can be found within, though Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL) together comprise almost 40% of XLK's portfolio.
But as with the other SPDR sector funds, XLK's greatest asset is its deep, robust liquidity. Almost $712 million in shares trade daily, at pennywide spreads or better, making XLK an ideal choice for sector rotation strategies or tactical allocations.
Year to date, XLK is up 45.8%. (Read: "Best Performing Tech ETFs Of The Year.")
For much the same reasons driving SPY, VOO and IVV's popularity, the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) continues to be one of the most popular funds on our site—and one of Vanguard's most popular funds, too. VTI alone accounts for over 12% of Vanguard's $1.11 trillion in AUM. (Read: "Vanguard Crosses $1 Trillion In ETF Assets.")
It's obvious why: VTI offers one-stop shopping for the U.S. equity market, offering exposure to a jaw-dropping 3,575 securities for just 3 bps. You want low-cost beta? VTI has it in spades.
In fact, it's hard to say anything exciting about VTI, but we'd argue that's part of its charm: The fund is truly a no-muss, no-fuss U.S. stock exposure.
VTI is up 28.2% year to date.
No. 8: SPHD
As the second dividend-focused ETF on this list, the Invesco S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility ETF (SPHD) is also the only truly smart beta fund among our readers' favorites.
SPHD selects the 50 least volatile names from the 75 highest-dividend yielding stocks in the S&P 500 Index. That gives SPHD a narrower portfolio than VYM, but also a higher distribution yield of 4.11%.
Funds have been steadily rolling into SPHD all year, with the fund seeing roughly $825 million in net inflows year to date. As such, SPHD has been a dark horse that has slipped under most people's radar, but we spotted the uptick in inflows all the way back in March. (Read: "Money Pours Into Multifactor US ETFs.")
Year to date, SPHD has returned 17.8%.
No. 10: VNQ
Real estate was 2019's stealth performance standout: Buoyed by ultra-low interest rates, the sector had the year's second-highest returns, just behind technology. (Read: "Best Performing Real Estate ETFs.")
Many investors looking to ride the real estate train looked no further than the Vanguard Real Estate ETF (VNQ), by far the largest real estate fund around. (It's six times larger than its nearest competitor, which is also a Vanguard fund.)
VNQ is diverse and cheap, with massive liquidity and pennywide (or better) spreads. Without being too broad, the fund covers all the major real estate bases: commercial, specialty, residential and more. It's a great proxy for real estate, and a perennial favorite with our readership.
VNQ has returned 24.2% year to date.
Contact Lara Crigger at [email protected]