Finding the best ETFs is an increasingly difficult task in a world with so many to choose from. How can you pick with so many choices available?

Don’t Trust ETF Labels

There are at least 39 different Financials ETFs and at least 189 ETFs across ten sectors. Do investors need nearly 19+ choices on average per sector? How different can the ETFs be?

Those 39 Financials ETFs are very different. With anywhere from 49 to 588 holdings, many of these Financials ETFs have drastically different portfolios, creating drastically different investment implications.

The same is true for the ETFs in any other sector, as each offers a very different mix of good and bad stocks. Consumer Staples rank first for stock selection. Energy ranks last. Details on the Best & Worst ETFs in each sector are here.

Paralysis By Analysis

We think the large number of Financials (or any other) sector ETFs hurts investors more than it helps because too many options can be paralyzing. It is simply not possible for the majority of investors to properly assess the quality of so many ETFs. Analyzing ETFs, done with the proper diligence, is far more difficult than analyzing stocks because it means analyzing all the stocks within each ETF. As stated above, that can be as many as 588 stocks, and sometimes even more, for one ETF.

Any investor focused on fulfilling fiduciary duties recognizes that analyzing the holdings of an ETF is critical to finding the best ETF. Figure 1 shows our top rated ETF for each sector.

Figure 1: The Best ETF in Each SectorNewConstructs_Best&Worst_BestETFsEachSectorSources:   New Constructs, LLC and company filings

Amongst the ETFs in Figure 1, iShares Global Tech ETF (IXN) ranks first overall, US Global JETS ETF (JETS) ranks second, and Fidelity MSCI Financials Index ETF (FNCL) ranks third. PowerShares S&P SmallCap Materials Portfolio (PSCM) ranks last.

How to Avoid “The Danger Within”

Why do you need to know the holdings of ETFs before you buy?

You need to be sure you do not buy an ETF that might blow up. Buying an ETF without analyzing its holdings is like buying a stock without analyzing its business and finances. No matter how cheap, if it holds bad stocks, the ETF’s performance will be bad. Don’t just take our word for it, see what Barron’s says on this matter.


If Only Investors Could Find Funds Rated by Their Holdings

Our ETF ratings leverage our stock coverage. We rate ETFs based on the aggregated ratings of the stocks each ETF holds.

iShares Global Tech ETF (IXN) is not only the top-rated Information Technology ETF, but is also the overall first sector ETF out of the 189 sector ETFs that we cover.

The worst ETF in Figure 1 is PowerShares S&P SmallCap Materials Portfolio (PSCM), which gets a Dangerous rating. One would think ETF providers could do better for this sector.

This article originally published here on November 10, 2016.

Disclosure: David Trainer, Kyle Guske and Kyle Martone receive no compensation to write about any specific stock, sector, or theme.

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