How Well Has Your Portfolio Done Year-to-Date

The first six months of 2019 have been odd, but there is never a better time than now to look at where your money is and how it has performed as we pass over the half-way point of the year.

The year started with the markets rallying back after a disastrous end of 2018, then the trade wars heated up, the economy has begun showing signs of weakness, the Federal Reserve is holding off on interest rate increases and even considering rate cuts, but the markets continue to set new record highs.

If you have been heavily invested in certain sectors you have had a losing 2019, maybe a mediocre year or a great year. On July 1st, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) was up 17.42% year-to-date. All of the major indexes and their corresponding Exchange Traded Funds have performed well during the first half of the year. The SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust (DIA) is up 15% year-to-date, while the Fidelity NASDAQ Composite Tracking Stock (ONEQ) is up 19.92% year-to-date. Even the broader indexes and their ETF’s such as the iShares Russell 1000 ETF (IWB) or the Vanguard Russell 3000 ETF (VTHR) are up 17.53% and 17.47% as of the morning of July 1st.

While the indexes all performed better than average years, if you were more industry-focused then as I said before, it depended on what industry you wherein during the first half of the year on whether or not you kept up with the market. The worst performing ETF during the first half of the year, outside of leveraged or any specialty products focusing on futures, was the Breakwave Dry Bulk Shipping ETF (BDRY) which has lost 29.22% since the start of 2019. The best performing ETF following the same guidelines was the Invesco Solar ETF (TAN), which is up 47.22% in 2019.

At the start of 2019, most investors believed a recession was coming and would start showing its head during the fall of this year. That is now just a few months away, and with many now believing the Fed will reduce rates in a coming meeting, it is hard to say that we may not be headed for a recession starting before the end of the year. So where does that put you and your money?

Well, I always promote the thinking that at the end of the day, not many investors beat the market over a year, let alone year after year after year. With the historical yearly return for the S&P 500 sitting at 9.8%, most investors would tell you they would love just to meet that return. With the S&P 500 being up more than 17% during the first half of this year, I can’t imagine anyone who has received that sort of return is complaining right now. On the other hand, those who bought Breakwave Dry Bulk Shipping ETF probably are a little upset. But, even more so, those who own TAN are rubbing their near 50% return in everyone’s face.

Sitting here today, or six months ago, the biggest problem is not knowing which sector or industry will outperform the others. This makes trying to cherry-pick individual ETF’s focused on sectors, industries, or trends, very difficult to perform. Of course, doing this can lead to outsized returns! But it can also lead to devastating losses.

This is why buying indexes and sitting on them is the best option for the average investor. Buy the SPY, the DIA, or the VTHR and sit back, relax, and watch the fund slowly climb higher over a few years. The moves will be slower, but much less volatile than cherry-picking sectors and industries. Not to mention, much less time consuming considering you won't constantly be looking at what to buy and what to sell. The only real decisions will be whether or not you want to be in the market or out of it. Once you decide the Index route is for you, worrying about how the trade war, or actual war, whom will benefit from higher or lower interest rates and all the other “noise” we hear each day about the markets will be less important.

With that all being said, I believe most people should have 90% or more in index funds. But I understand indexing is not for everyone and thus that is why we have over 2,100 none leveraged ETF’s today and more seem to be popping up all the time. That is also why you can come back here about once a week and continue to learn more about ETF’s of all shapes and sizes, sectors and industries, and we can all become better investors together.

Leave a comment below letting me know what in the world of Exchange Traded Fund’s that you want to know more about.

Matt Thalman
INO.com Contributor - ETFs
Follow me on Twitter @mthalman5513

Disclosure: This contributor did not own shares of any equity mentioned above at the time this blog post was published. This article is the opinion of the contributor themselves. The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. This contributor is not receiving compensation (other than from INO.com) for their opinion.

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