Mid-Cap ETFs Find a Sweet Spot

ETF Trends

After stumbling earlier this year, equities are recovering with mid-cap exchange traded funds coming out on top.

Mid-cap stocks and ETFs are outperforming other asset class categories year-to-date. The S&P MidCap 400 Index has gained 2.4% so far this year, but the S&P LargeCap 500 Index is up 0.7% and the S&P SmallCap 600 Index is up 0.3%. The broader Russell 2000 Index, though, has gained 2.2% so far this year, but still slightly lower than mid-caps.

“Mid-cap stocks tend to be more volatile as they typically lack economic moats–or sustainable competitive advantages,” according to Morningstar analyst Michael Rawson. “As such, they will exhibit greater sensitivity to macroeconomic risks…. The greater the volatility, the greater the potential for large gains and large losses.”

So far this year, the mid-caps have hit a sweet spot with investors, providing greater mobility than the stodgy large-caps and a little more stability than small-caps.

Investors interested in mid-cap focused ETFs can take a look at the iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF (IJH) , the largest offering in the space. IJH tries to reflect the performance of the S&P MidCap 400 Index and comes with a 0.15% expense ratio. The ETF is up 2.5% year-to-date.

“Funds that track the S&P MidCap 400 Index are well-suited for those seeking to precisely control their equity exposure by market-capitalization range, as it is designed to fit between the large-cap S&P 500 and S&P SmallCap 600 in order to cover the vast majority of the U.S. equities market with minimal holdings overlap,” Rawson added.

Alternatively, the SPDR Mid-Cap 400 (MDY) covers the same mid-cap index. However, due to the older unit investment trust structure, the ETF is less flexible than Regulated Investment Company fund structures found in most other ETFs, like IJH. Consequently, MDY can not lend shares or efficiently reinvest dividends. MDY also issues a costlier a 0.25% expense ratio. The fund is up 2.4% year-to-date.

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