Worst Performing ETFs of the Year

Losses ranged from 26% to 67% for these exchange-traded funds.

sumit
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Senior ETF Analyst
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Reviewed by: Lisa Barr
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Edited by: Lisa Barr

There’s no question: 2023 has been a great year for exchange-traded fund investors so far. As we highlighted in our list of this year’s best-performing ETFs, there have been dozens of funds that have delivered massive gains for investors.  

But not every ETF has done well this year. Around 14% of U.S.-listed ETFs were lower on a year-to-date basis as of the end of June. That’s a relatively small percentage, but that still amounts to a few hundred ETFs. 

The 20 worst-performing ETFs (excluding leveraged/inverse funds) have losses ranging from 26% to 67%. 

The Worst Performers 

As growth stocks have come back into favor in 2023, investors have lost some of their enthusiasm for value stocks. 

Perhaps the best example of this is the energy sector, which is down by 5.4% as measured by the Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE). Last year, energy was the best-performing sector within the stock market, with a 64% gain.  

The financial sector is another group that’s lost its luster in 2023, no thanks to the banking crisis that erupted in March following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.  

The SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE) lost 29.3% this year, making it the 15th-worst-performing ETF of the year.  

But no ETF has done worse than the Noble Absolute Return ETF (NOPE). This hedge-fund-in-an-ETF made some ill-timed bets against Tesla, gold and bitcoin late last year, leading to a whopping 67% loss for the fund so far in 2023.  

The actively managed ETF recently shifted gears to go long the Nasdaq, gold miners and airline stocks.  

Meanwhile, the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was cut by almost 50% during the first half of the year, as natural gas prices plummeted due to a warm winter in the U.S. and rising production of the fuel.  

Cannabis ETFs have also fared poorly so far in 2023, with losses of around 30% to 40% for funds like the Global X Cannabis ETF (POTX) and the AXS Cannabis ETF (THCX). 

Finally, funds tied to the Cboe Volatility Index were among this year’s worst performers as well, no thanks to the VIX falling to its lowest levels since early 2020. The index was last seen at 14.5, which compares to its five-year average of 21.5. 

For a full list of this year’s 20 worst-performing ETFs, see the table below:  

TickerFundYTD Return (%)
NOPE Noble Absolute Return ETF-66.74
KSET KraneShares Global Carbon Offset Strategy ETF-63.83
VIXY ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF-56.13
VXX iPath Series B S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN-55.74
SPKX Convexityshares 1x Spikes Futures ETF-55.08
CYA Simplify Tail Risk Strategy ETF-48.83
UNG United States Natural Gas Fund LP-47.38
POTX Global X Cannabis ETF-40.85
BDRY Breakwave Dry Bulk Shipping ETF-39.61
THCX AXS Cannabis ETF-33.98
UNL United States 12 Month Natural Gas Fund LP-33.12
VIXMProShares VIX Mid-Term Futures ETF-32.56
VXZ iPath Series B S&P 500 VIX Mid-Term Futures ETN-31.33
PALL abrdn Physical Palladium Shares ETF-31.09
KRE SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF-29.25
MJ ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF-29.12
YOLOAdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF-28.06
IAT iShares US Regional Banks ETF-27.90
CNBSAmplify Seymour Cannabis ETF-27.36
PSDN Advisorshares Poseidon Dynamic Cannabis ETF-26.62

 

Contact Sumit Roy at [email protected]

Sumit Roy is the senior ETF analyst for etf.com, where he has worked for 13 years. He creates a variety of content for the platform, including news articles, analysis pieces, videos and podcasts.

Before joining etf.com, Sumit was the managing editor and commodities analyst for Hard Assets Investor. In those roles, he was responsible for most of the operations of HAI, a website dedicated to education about commodities investing.

Though he still closely follows the commodities beat, Sumit covers a much broader assortment of topics for etf.com, with a particular focus on stock and bond exchange-traded funds.

He is the host of etf.com’s Talk ETFs, a popular video series that features weekly interviews with thought leaders in the ETF industry. Sumit is also co-host of Exchange Traded Fridays, etf.com’s weekly podcast series.

He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he enjoys climbing the city’s steep hills, playing chess and snowboarding in Lake Tahoe.