ETF Investing: This 6-year-old bull market’s big winners: biotech, pharma and value stocks

ETF Investing: This 6-year-old bull market’s big winners: biotech, pharma and value stocks

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The current bull market is marking its sixth birthday, and a few slices of the stock market have more reason to celebrate than others.

Who really deserves to whoop it up? Biotech and pharma ETFs, value ETFs that aim to find bargains, and ETFs targeting consumer-discretionary or retail stocks.

The 10 ETFs that have performed best since the S&P 500’s SPX, +0.39%  closing low on March 9, 2009, are all from those areas, according to data from ETF.com and XTF.com.

Biotech and pharma stocks benefited from factors such as M&A activity, promising new treatments and growing demand. MarketWatch columnist Jeff Reeves argues biotech is one of the best sectors to own to make the most of the stock market in 2015, though Michael Brush outlines six reasons why biotech stocks may soon tank.

The table below details exactly how these slices of the market have rewarded investors. By way of comparison, the biggest ETF tracking the market’s main benchmark — the SPDR S&P 500 ETF SPY, +0.41%   — has returned 245% over the same period.

10 best-performing ETFs in the past 6 years

Name
Ticker
Total Return
First Trust NYSE Arca Biotech ETF
FBT
618%
Guggenheim S&P 500 Pure Value ETF
RPV
575%
Guggenheim S&P 600 SmallCap Pure Value ETF
RZV
560%
PowerShares Dynamic Pharmaceutical ETF
PJP
552%
Guggenheim S&P Equal Weight Consumer Disc. ETF
RCD
508%
iShares Nasdaq Biotech ETF
IBB
487%
SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF
XPH
486%
SPDR S&P Retail ETF
XRT
472%
Guggenheim S&P 400 Midcap Pure Value ETF
RFV
463%
First Trust Consumer Disc. AlphaDEX ETF
FXD
439%

Source: XTF.com data from 3/9/09 close through 3/6/15 close for all nonleveraged U.S. ETFs active over that period

The worst-performing ETFs over the past six years are a varied bunch of fixed-income ETFs that have struggled during a historic bull market for stocks.

The table below details the 10 worst-performing U.S. ETFs over the past six years.

10 worst-performing ETFs in the past 6 years

Name
Ticker
Total Return
SPDR Barclays 1-3 Month T-bill ETF
 BIL 
                       -0.28%
iShares Short Treasury Bond ETF
SHV
                       0.47%
PowerShares VRDO Tax-Free Weekly ETF
 PVI 
                       1.75%
iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond ETF
 SHY 
                       5.92%
iShares Short-Term National AMT-Free Muni Bond ETF
 SUB 
                       9.04%
SPDR Nuveen Barclays Short Term Municipal Bond ETF
 SHM 
                    12.6%
SPDR Barclays Intermediate Term Treasury ETF
 ITE 
                    14.6%
iShares Agency Bond ETF
AGZ
                    15.0 %
Vanguard Short-Term Bond ETF
 BSV 
                    15.6 %
Market Vectors Short Municipal ETF
 SMB 
                    16.3 %

Source: ETF.com data from 3/9/09 close through 3/6/15 close for all nonleveraged U.S. ETFs active over that period

Also read: Why the 6-year-old bull market has a shot at celebrating its 7th birthday

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ETF Investing: This 6-year-old bull market’s big winners: biotech, pharma and value stocks

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