Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) hold a collection of securities—such as stocks—that often track an underlying index. While they are similar to mutual funds in some ways, ETFs are different in that they are listed on exchanges and can be traded throughout the day like traditional stocks. In recent years, ETFs have become immensely popular with investors for two major reasons. They provide an easy access point to a wide variety of sectors, industries, and strategies. And they tend to minimize many of the risks inherent in investing in individual stocks.

Key Takeaways

  • The best ETFs by 1-year trailing total return have dramatically outperformed the broader market over the past year.
  • The ETFs with the best 1-year trailing total return are CNBS, BLOK, and IBUY.
  • The top holdings of these ETFs are sponsored ADRs of GW Pharmaceuticals PLC, sponsored ADR class A shares of Canaan Inc., and Groupon Inc., respectively.

There are 1,456 ETFs that trade in the U.S., excluding leveraged or inverse funds and those with under $50 million in assets under management (AUM). The S&P 500 has provided a total return of 29.3% over the past 12 months, as of March 8, 2021. All three of the top ETFs by 1-year trailing total return dramatically outperformed the S&P 500 over the past year. The best performing ETF, based on performance over the past 1 year is the Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF (CNBS). Below, we’ll look at the top 3 ETFs as measured by 1-year trailing total returns. All statistics in the tables below are as of March 8.

Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF (CNBS)

  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: 178.3%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.75%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: 0.37%
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 258,826
  • Assets Under Management: $125.2 million
  • Inception Date: July 23, 2019
  • Issuer: Amplify

CNBS is an actively-managed multi-cap fund which aims to provide investors exposure to the global cannabis industry. At least 80% of its holdings are invested in companies that generate 50% or more of their revenue from cannabis and hemp production, and related products and services. CNBS includes exposure to companies focused on medical cannabis and therapeutics. More than half of CNBS holdings focus on the other portions of the cannabis industry such as cultivation and retail. Its top three holdings include sponsored ADRs of GW Pharmaceuticals PLC (GWPH), a British pharmaceuticals company; Canopy Growth Corp. (CGC), a Canada-based producer of medical cannabis products; and Village Farms International Inc. (VFF), a Canada-based company that grows produce and cannabis products.

Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK)

  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: 175.5%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.71%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: 1.31%
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 983,697
  • Assets Under Management: $1.2 billion
  • Inception Date: January 17, 2018
  • Issuer: Amplify

BLOK is an actively-managed ETF that invests at least of 80% of its net assets in stocks of companies engaged in the development and utilization of blockchain technologies. It follows a blended strategy, investing in a mix of value and growth stocks of various market capitalizations from global markets. The fund focuses on holdings mostly operating within the software & services, diversified financials, and media & entertainment industries. The top three holdings of BLOK include sponsored ADR class A shares of Canaan Inc. (CAN), a China-based maker of hardware used in cryptocurrency mining and related activities; Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd. (GLXY:TSE), a limited partner in Galaxy Digital LP, a merchant banking institution focused on digital assets and blockchain technology; and class A shares of MicroStrategy Inc. (MSTR), a provider of enterprise software platforms.

Amplify Online Retail ETF (IBUY)

  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: 156.2%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.65%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: 0.50%
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 282,328
  • Assets Under Management: $1.8 billion
  • Inception Date: April 20, 2016
  • Issuing Company: Amplify

IBUY is a multi-cap growth fund that tracks the EQM Online Retail Index. The index aims to provide exposure to consumer discretionary retailers, travel sites, and other websites that derive at least 70% of their revenue from online sources. The fund's top three holdings include Groupon Inc. (GRPN), a provider of an e-commerce marketplace service; TripAdvisor Inc. (TRIP), a travel company operating comparison shopping and user-generated review sites; and class A shares of Revolve Group Inc. (RVLV), an online fashion retailer.

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