What Is the SPY ETF?

The SPY ETF is one of the most popular funds that aims to track the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, which comprises 500 large- and mid-cap U.S. stocks. These stocks are selected by a committee based on the market size, liquidity, and industry. The S&P 500 serves as one of the main benchmarks of the U.S. equity market and indicates the financial health and stability of the economy.

The SPY is a well-diversified basket of assets, which allocates its fund into multiple sectors, such as 21.30% information technology, 15.46% health care, 14.08% financial services, 10.74% communication services, 8.92% industrials, 8.13% consumer defensive, 9.66% consumer cyclical, 3.62% utilities, and 3.25% real estate.

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust allocates almost all of its funds into common stocks, which are included in the S&P 500 Index. Its current top 10 holdings are in the following companies:

  • Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)
  • Apple Incorporated (AAPL)
  • Amazon (AMZN)
  • Facebook Inc - Class A (FB)
  • Berkshire Hathaway Inc - Class B (BRK.B)
  • Alphabet Inc Class C (GOOG)
  • Alphabet Inc A (GOOGL)
  • Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM)
  • Visa Inc. Class A (V)

SPY Performance

With a five-star Morningstar rating, SPY's returns have beat the average return of other large blend funds in the past decade. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) has generated an average three-year return of 6.23%. Based on trailing 10-year data, the fund generated average annual returns of 11.04%. Since the inception of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, the fund achieved average annual returns of 8.93%.


The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust is structured as a unit investment trust, which is a security that is designed to purchase a fixed portfolio of assets. SPY is listed on the New York Stock Exchange's Arca Exchange, and investors are able to trade this ETF on multiple platforms. The trustee of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust is State Street Bank and Trust Company, and its distributor is ALPS Distributors Incorporated.

The fund has a gross expense ratio of 0.095%. While this ratio is low, it is not the lowest among other ETFs that track the S&P 500 Index. SPY's expense ratio is almost double the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF's expense ratio of 0.04%. These fees do not include broker fees.

The Bottom Line

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust offers investors an efficient way to diversify their exposure to the U.S. equity market, without having to invest in multiple stocks. Therefore, SPY is suitable for any investors that want to include U.S. equities in their portfolio while taking only a moderate level of risk. However, since the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust tracks 500 large- and mid-cap stocks in the United States, it carries a multitude of risks, such as market risk, country risk, currency risk, economic risk, and interest rate risk. Investors should be aware of both world and U.S. economic data, which could affect the performance of the fund.