Worst Performing ETFs Of 2016 To Date

It's still early in the year, but a number of ETFs have already lost 25-50% of their value in 2016.

sumit
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Senior ETF Analyst
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Reviewed by: Sumit Roy
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Edited by: Sumit Roy
In Tuesday's article listing the top-performing ETFs of 2016 so far, there wasn't much diversity. Every one of the top 10 was a gold miners ETF.

For better or for worse, that's not the case for the bottom-performers list, which features a much more wide-ranging group of funds. From health care to commodities to China, there's a host of different types of ETFs that are faring poorly this year.

That's unsurprising considering that the broad market is still down for the year even after stocks rallied strongly in the second half of February and the first session of March. As of the close on March 1, the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY | A-98) was down 2.9% year-to-date.

That compares to losses for the 15 ETFs at the bottom of the heap so far in 2016 that range from 23.1% to as much as 46.1%.

Two Troubled ETNs

Taking the Nos. 1 and 2 positions on this worst-performers list are two exchange-traded notes with little in the way of assets.

The iPath Global Carbon ETN (GRN | F) dropped more than 46% just in the first two months of the year, following the carbon credit market lower.

Meanwhile, the thinly traded iPath Bloomberg Natural Gas Subindex Total Return ETN (GAZ | F-65) lost 43.2% through March 1. Effectively a broken product, GAZ has been closed to new creations for some time now, which has led to big distortions in the price of the ETN.

Issuer Barclays has warned that GAZ may cease to trade or may decline to zero if natural gas prices continue to tumble.

Biotech Hammered

The ETFs that appeared the most on the worst-performers list are those related to health care―specifically, biotech. A total of six health care funds were in the bottom 15 as the sector tanked to start the year.

Scandal grips some of the top names in the industry, while the specter of political uncertainty and potential regulations also hangs over the biotech space.

The BioShares Biotechnology Clinical Trials ETF (BBC), the ALPS Medical Breakthroughs ETF (SBIO), and the PowerShares Dynamic Biotech & Genome ETF (PBE | B-49) are a few of this year's dismal biotech performers. Losses for these ETFs range from 23.1% to 38.6%.

NatGas & China Struggle

Last year, energy ETFs dominated the bottom-performers list. So far this year, they're still doing poorly, but to a lesser degree.

In addition to GAZ, another natural gas product―the First Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas ETF (FCG | B-95)―made the cut with a loss of 23.5%.

So too did the PowerShares Dynamic Energy Exploration & Production ETF (PXE | B-65), a product that in addition to holding E&P companies, is heavily on oil refiners. PXE shed 22.6% this year.

Finally, one familiar area that's struggled and dominated the headlines for months is China. Thus, it's not a shock to see two ETFs related to that country perform particularly poorly.

The Market Vectors ChinaAMC SME-ChiNext ETF (CNXT | D-54)―last year's top-performing ETF―is down 28.6% so far this year, while the Deutsche X-trackers Harvest CSI 500 China A-Shares ETF (ASHS | F-57) is down 26.8%.

15 Worst-Performing ETFs Of 2016 To-Date

TickerFundTD Return (%)
GRN iPath Global Carbon ETN-46.13
GAZiPath Bloomberg Natural Gas Subindex Total Return ETN-43.24
BBC BioShares Biotechnology Clinical Trials-37.63
SBIO ALPS Medical Breakthroughs -31.23
DPU DB Commodity Long ETN-29.51
CNXTMarket Vectors ChinaAMC SME-ChiNext-28.61
ASHS Deutsche X-trackers Harvest CSI 500 China-A Shares Small Cap -26.8
CNCR Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy-25.96
DXJF WisdomTree Japan Hedged Financials-25.03
PBE PowerShares Dynamic Biotech & Genome-24.46
PTH PowerShares DWA Healthcare Momentum-23.99
TAN Guggenheim Solar-23.92
FCG First Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas-23.54
BBP BioShares Biotechnology Products-23.1
PXE PowerShares Dynamic Energy Exploration & Production-22.64

Data through March 1, 2016


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.