The Top ETFs Over Three Years: Consumer Spending Makes an Impact

by Charles Rotblut, CFA

This is the third year we have compiled and analyzed the top-performing exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Only one ETF has made the list of the 10 best performers in all three years: SPDR S&P Retail fund (XRT). The fund’s three-year annualized gain of 30.6% ranks third among all exchange-traded funds. Its three-year performance ranked eighth in 2012 and third in 2011.

Notably only one other ETF retained its top-10 ranking from last year: PowerShares Dynamic Pharmaceuticals fund (PJP). The ETF realized a 33.5% annualized gain over the past three years, the best performance of any ETF over that time period. Last year, the fund ranked sixth among all funds.

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Charles Rotblut, CFA is a vice president at AAII and editor of the AAII Journal. Follow him on Twitter at


H Jagannath from Florida posted 7 months ago:

I was wondered about dividend paying stock or best dividend etf to generate monthly dividend.thanks

Winston Pearson from Georgia posted 7 months ago:

I would suggest, depending on amount of money available, various stocks that pay quarterly, but pay in different months so that you get a monthly check. You could get 12 checks a year with just 3 stocks.

Robert Rutherford from Washington posted 6 months ago:

Why is BAB listed under the 'Muni Nat'l Bond: Long Term Cat Average' category? Isn't it a taxable bond fund, i.e., the distributions are treated as ordinary income?

Charles Rotblut from Illinois posted 6 months ago:

Hi Robert,

The fund is listed under Muni Nat'l Bond because, according to Morningstar, it invests in taxable municipal bonds.


Christophe Couallier from Florida posted 4 months ago:

How would you screen for ETFs to build a portfolio? Looking for ways via the excel table attached with the article. Thanks.

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