The S&P 500 SPDR (SPY) is the oldest and best-known exchange-traded fund. Here’s a quick primer on the history of SPY, by the numbers:

Vital Stats

Below are some stats that put SPY into perspective:

  • Oldest U.S.-listed ETF (launched 1993)
  • Largest U.S. listed ETF ($141.6 billion in AUM)
  • Most Heavily Traded U.S. listed ETF (ADV of 5.2 million shares)

Year by Year

Between its first full year of trading in 1994 and 2012, SPY has turned in 15 positive annual performances and lost ground in four years:

Combined together, that translates into an aggregate performance of about 331% between inception and June 30, 2013:

Since it launched in 1993 (and through June 2013), SPY’s winning sessions outnumber its losing ones by about 1.17 to one. Visualized another way:

Visualized another way, here’s a look at the daily performance of SPY since its inception (note the significant increase in volatility throughout 2008 and 2009):

Here’s yet another way to look at the daily historical volatility of SPY:

To put the volatility of the recent recession and recovery in perspective, here’s that same chart for 2008 and 2009 only:

Of the 29 sessions in which SPY has moved by 5% or more, here’s the chronological breakdown:

Over one week (five session) periods, SPY has gained as much as 19.4% and lost as much as 19.8% of its value:

Here’s a look at SPY’s biggest swings over a 10-session period of time:

Fun Facts

  • With $145.44 billion in assets, SPY represents about 9.7% of the total ETF universe
  • Since inception, more than 411 billion shares of SPY have been traded
  • Approximately 25.7 million shares, or 3% of total shares outstanding, trade hands every day

Dividend History

Here’s a look at every dividend SPY has paid since its launch, as well as the yield based on the stock price at the time:


SPY charges an annual management fee of 0.09%, making it one of the cheapest ETFs out there. With assets of 149.6 billion, that means SPY generates about $141 million annually, or about $16,000 every hour.

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

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Tickers in this Article: SPY

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