Complete Guide To Investment Companies, Funds And REITs

AAA

Exchange-Traded Funds - Measuring Performance

ETFs and mutual funds share similar methods of performance measurement. Like mutual funds, ETF prices are determined by the value of the underlying securities in the fund. This value rises and falls with the value of the underlying investments. NAV only tells part of the performance story, as dividends and capital gains must also be taken into consideration when calculating the total return on the investment.

Tracking Errors
Although rarely considered by the average investor, tracking errors can have an unexpected material effect on an investor's returns. It is important to investigate this aspect of any ETF index fund before investing.

Running an ETF index fund might seem like a simple job, but it can actually be quite difficult. ETF index fund managers often employ complex strategies in order to track their target index in real time, with fewer costs and greater accuracy than their competitors.

Many market indexes are market capitalization weighted. This means that the amount of each security held in the index fluctuates, according to the ratio of its market capitalization against the total market capitalization of all securities in the index. Since market capitalization is market price times shares outstanding, fluctuations in the price of securities can cause the composition of these indexes to change constantly.

An index fund must execute trades in such a way as to hold hundreds or thousands of securities precisely in proportion to their weighting in the constantly changing target index. In theory, whenever an investor buys or sells the ETF index fund, trades for all of these different securities must be executed simultaneously at the current price. This is not the reality. Although these trades are automated, the fund's buy and sell transactions may be large enough to slightly change the prices of the securities it is trading. In addition, trades are often executed with slightly different timing, depending on the speed of the exchange and the trading volume in each security.

The key is for investors to understand what they are buying. Make sure that the ETF index fund you are considering does a good job of tracking its index. Key metrics to look for here are the fund's R-squared and beta. R-squared is a statistical measure that indicates how well the index fund's price movements correlate with index. The closer the R-squared is to one, the closer the index fund's ups and downs match those of the target index.

You will also want to ensure that the fund's beta is very close to the target index's beta. This means that the fund has about the same risk profile as the index. Theoretically, a fund can have a close correlation with its index, but still fluctuate by a greater or lesser margin than the index, which will be indicated by a different beta. These two metrics together indicate that the fund will track the index very closely. Finally, a visual inspection of the fund's returns versus its benchmark index is a good sanity check on the statistics. Be sure to look at different periods to make sure the index fund tracks the index well over both short-term fluctuations and long-term trends.

Related Reading:

Which Is Better?
Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    How Mutual Fund Companies Make Money

    Read about the many different kinds of fees and sales charges mutual fund companies can use to generate revenue from those who invest in their shares.
  2. Investing Basics

    The Lipper Rating System Explained

    Take a closer look at how Lipper Inc., a subsidiary of Thomson Reuters, determines the ratings for mutual funds in its Lipper Rating System.
  3. Investing News

    Should You Be Betting with Buffett Right Now?

    Following Warren Buffett's stock picks has historically been a good strategy. Is considering his biggest holdings in 2016 a good idea?
  4. Investing Basics

    Contingent Convertible Bonds: Bumpy Ride Ahead

    European banks' CoCos are in crisis. What investors who hold these high-reward but high-risk bonds should know.
  5. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    The 4 Best T. Rowe Price Funds for Growth Investors in 2016 (TROW)

    Discover the four best mutual funds administered and managed by T. Rowe Price that specialize in investing in stocks of growth companies.
  6. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    The 3 Best T. Rowe Price Funds for Value Investors in 2016

    Read analyses of the top three T. Rowe Price value funds open to new investors, and learn about their investment objectives and historical performances.
  7. Active Trading Fundamentals

    4 Stocks With Bullish Head and Shoulders Patterns for 2016 (PG, ETR)

    Discover analyses of the top four stocks with bullish head and shoulders patterns forming in 2016, and learn the prices at which they should be considered.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 3 Lazard Funds for Retirement Diversification in 2016

    Learn about Lazard Asset Management, its long history of strong performance and the top three Lazard funds to consider for retirement diversification.
  9. Investing Basics

    How liquid are Fidelity mutual funds?

    Review the liquidity features of mutual fund shares and an overview of Fidelity mutual funds. Most investors look for convenient access to their investments.
  10. Fundamental Analysis

    3 Reasons To Not Sell After a Market Downturn

    Find out the reasons that it is not a good idea to sell after a market downturn. There are lessons to be learned from the last major market downturn.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Green Fund

    A mutual fund or other investment vehicle that will only invest ...
  2. Alternative Energy ETF

    An exchange-traded fund that invests in companies engaged in ...
  3. PIPE Deal

    Signifying "Private Investment in Public Equity," a PIPE deal ...
  4. Collateralized Mortgage Obligation ...

    A type of mortgage-backed security in which principal repayments ...
  5. Consumer Staples

    Essential products such as food, beverages, tobacco and household ...
  6. Hedge

    Making an investment to reduce the risk of adverse price movements ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is a derivative?

    A derivative is a contract between two or more parties whose value is based on an agreed-upon underlying financial asset, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is securitization?

    Securitization is the process of taking an illiquid asset, or group of assets, and through financial engineering, transforming ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Are target-date retirement funds good investments?

    The main benefit of target-date retirement funds is convenience. If you really don't want to bother with your retirement ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Do mutual funds require a demat account?

    A dematerialized account enables electronic transfer of funds. The account is used so an investor does not need to hold the ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Can hedge funds trade penny stocks?

    Hedge funds can trade penny stocks. In fact, hedge funds can trade in just about any type of security, including medium- ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How liquid are Vanguard mutual funds?

    The Vanguard mutual fund family is one of the largest and most well-recognized fund family in the financial industry. Its ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Liquidation Margin

    Liquidation margin refers to the value of all of the equity positions in a margin account. If an investor or trader holds ...
  2. Black Swan

    An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult ...
  3. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  4. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
  5. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
Trading Center