ETF Awards: Best, Worst and What to Watch in 2014

By Eric Balchunas - 2013-12-19T16:50:25Z

Photograph by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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Best U.S. Equity ETF

Vanguard Total Stock Market (VTI)
+29%

VTI was the way to ride the stock market bull in 2013. It returned 28.9 percent, a touch more than the S&P 500, thanks to its 12 percent stake in small- and mid-cap stocks. It was one of only six ETFs to attract more than $6 billion in new cash. VTI gives investors exposure to 3,600 stocks for a fee of 0.05 percent, the best deal among equity ETFs and the ultimate “set it and forget it” fund. 

The worst-performing equity ETFs, such as the PowerShares S&P 500 Downside Hedged Portfolio (PHDG), had some kind of hedge for protection in down markets. Still, “bad” performance is relative. PHDG returned 11 percent.

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