2021’s ETF Winners And Losers

  • Editor's Pick

The year 2021 was a robust period for the broader indices as well as the 11 sectors of the S&P 500 , which we recently reviewed. But we did see divergences in returns of many stocks, especially growth names, as well as exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in them.

To mark the end of 2021 we review funds that were either clear winners or decisive losers in 2021. Understandably, ours is not a comprehensive list. Yet, a number of these funds are likely to appeal to long-term investors.

It should be note that our discussion does not include leveraged and inverse ETFs, as they are generally more appropriate for short-term traders.

Major Indices

Main indices saw double-digit gains in 2021. Three names top the list:

SPDR® Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust (NYSE: DIA ), which tracks the Dow Jones — up 19.3% year-to-date;

SPDR® S&P 500 (NYSE: SPY ), which tracks the S&P 500 Index — up 27.7 %;

Invesco QQQ Trust (NASDAQ: QQQ ), which tracks the NASDAQ 100 index — up 28.1%.

High-growth tech shares typically get significant attention. Therefore, let’s now look at ETFs that provided profitable access to sub-sectors in technology during the year.

Several Technology Winners

We believe semiconductor stocks deserve a place in long-term portfolios.

Three ETFs with strong returns in that segment are:

  • iShares Semiconductor ETF (NASDAQ: SOXX ) — up 45.1%
  • VanEck Semiconductor ETF (NASDAQ: SMH ) — up 43.5%
  • SPDR® S&P Semiconductor ETF (NYSE: XSD ) — up 43.2%

From chip funds, we move to general technology funds as well as those with more distinct themes, like artificial intelligence, blockchain, electric vehicles and battery technologies, 5G, robotics, machine learning or work from home.

In those areas, we have the following funds:

  • iShares U.S. Technology ETF (NYSE: IYW — up 36.6%
  • Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF (NYSE: LIT ) — up 36.5%
  • Vanguard Information Technology Index Fund ETF Shares (NYSE: VGT ) — up 30.9%
  • First Trust NASDAQ Technology Dividend Index Fund (NASDAQ: TDIV ) — up 28.1%
  • Defiance 5G Next (LON: NXT ) Gen Connectivity ETF (NYSE: FIVG ) — up 25.1%
  • Invesco DWA Technology Momentum ETF (NASDAQ: PTF ) — up 19.6%
  • Robo Global® Robotics and Automation Index ETF (NYSE: ROBO ) — up 15.8%
  • Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (NYSE: BLOK ) — up 15.5%
  • KraneShares Electric Vehicles and Future Mobility Index (NYSE: KARS ) — up 14.6%
  • iShares Cybersecurity and Tech ETF (NYSE: IHAK ) — up 11.3%
  • Direxion Work From Home ETF (NYSE: WFH ) — up 10.8%
  • First Trust Nasdaq Artificial Intelligence and Robotics ETF (NASDAQ: ROBT ) — up 10.4%
  • Innovator Loup Frontier Tech (NYSE: LOUP ) — up 8.0%
  • VictoryShares Nasdaq Next 50 ETF (NASDAQ: QQQN ) — up 7.9%

Other Winners

Understandably, 2021 was not all about technology. Here are several other ETFs that also saw robust annual returns:

  • Breakwave Dry Bulk Shipping ETF (NYSE: BDRY ) — up 266.9%
  • KraneShares Global Carbon ETF (NYSE: KRBN ) — up 104.6%
  • First Trust Nasdaq Oil & Gas ETF (NASDAQ: FTXN ) — up 69.3%
  • VanEck Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF (NYSE: REMX ) — up 68.1%
  • SPDR® S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (NYSE: XOP ) — up 67.5%
  • Invesco S&P SmallCap Energy ETF (NYSE: XLE ) (NASDAQ: PSCE ) — up 64.7%
  • Invesco DB Oil Fund (NYSE: DBO ) — up 63.0%
  • Global X Uranium ETF (NYSE: URA ) — up 57.5%
  • Invesco S&P 500® Equal Weight Energy ETF (NYSE: RYE ) — up 54.7%
  • Invesco S and P SmallCap Value with Momentum (NYSE: XSVM ) — up 54.3%
  • John Hancock Multifactor Energy ETF (NYSE: JHME ) — up 52.6%
  • Pacer Benchmark Industrial Real Estate SCTR (NYSE: INDS ) — up 51.4%
  • Invesco DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund (NYSE: DBC ) — up 42.7%
  • Global X MSCI China Energy ETF (NYSE: CHIE ) — up 41.8%
  • Teucrium Corn Fund (NYSE: CORN ) — up 41.0%
  • SPDR Dow Jones REIT ETF (NYSE: RWR ) — up 40.3%
  • Vanguard Financials Index Fund ETF Shares (NYSE: VFH ) — up 33.1%
  • Alerian MLP ETF (NYSE: AMLP ) — up 25.9%
  • Vanguard Materials Index Fund ETF Shares (NYSE: VAW ) — up 25.2%
  • Vanguard Consumer Discretionary Index Fund ETF Shares (NYSE: VCR ) — up 24.6%
  • Invesco KBW Premium Yield Equity REIT ETF (NASDAQ: KBWY ) — up 24.3%
  • iShares Global Financials ETF (NYSE: IXG ) — up 23.3%
  • iShares MSCI Frontier and Select EM ETF (NYSE: FM ) — up 20.4%
  • VanEck Pharmaceutical ETF (NASDAQ: PPH ) — up 16.3%
  • iShares Core MSCI Europe ETF (NYSE: IEUR ) — up 14.1%
  • iShares MSCI India ETF (NYSE: INDA ) — up 14.8%
  • iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF (NYSE: EWU ) — up 13.7%
  • Invesco DB US Dollar Index Bullish Fund (NYSE: UUP ) — up 6.2%

Losers: ETFs That Had A Tough 2021

Not all sectors or funds were winners during the year. Contrarian investors who expect a rotation into some of these segments in 2022 might want to research these ETFs further. They include:

  • KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF (NYSE: KWEB ) — down 54.4%
  • Invesco Golden Dragon China ETF (NASDAQ: PGJ ) — down 47.4%
  • ProShares Long Online/Short Stores ETF (NYSE: CLIX ) — down 40.8%
  • ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (NYSE: ARKG ) — down 35.6%
  • EMQQ The Emerging Markets Internet & Ecommerce ETF (NYSE: EMQQ ) — down 34.1%
  • Invesco WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (NYSE: PBW ) — down 31.9%
  • Defiance Next Gen SPAC Derived ETF (NYSE: SPAK ) — down 26.8%
  • iShares MSCI Global Silver and Metals Miners ETF (NYSE: SLVP ) — down 26.2%
  • Invesco Solar ETF (NYSE: TAN ) — down 26.1%
  • iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (NASDAQ: ICLN ) — down 25.9%
  • ProShares Online Retail (NYSE: ONLN ) — down 25.4%
  • ETFMG Alternative Harvest (NYSE: MJ ) — down 25.1%
  • Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF (NASDAQ: CNCR ) — down 24.9%
  • ARK Innovation ETF (NYSE: ARKK ) — down 24.6%
  • VanEck Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDX ) (NYSE: GDXJ ) — down 23.8%
  • iShares Latin America 40 ETF (NYSE: ILF ) — down 21.6%
  • SPDR® FactSet Innovative Technology ETF (NYSE: XITK ) — down 12.5%
  • O'Shares Global Internet Giants (NYSE: OGIG ) — down 9.9%
  • BlueStar Israel Technology ETF (NYSE: ITEQ ) — down 8.5%
  • VanEck Video Gaming and eSports ETF (NASDAQ: ESPO ) — down 6.2%
  • SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE: GLD ) — down 5.3%
  • Global X Cloud Computing (NASDAQ: CLOU ) — down 4.8%
  • Invesco DWA Healthcare Momentum ETF (NASDAQ: PTH ) — down 4.7%
  • U.S. Global Jets ETF (NYSE: JETS ) — down 4.6%

Bottom Line

Investing for the long-term and diversifying portfolios are possibly the two most important points of our annual review. Readers should also do their own research before buying an ETF or stock.

Drop an image here or Supported formats: *.jpg, *.png, *.gif up to 5mb

Error: File type not supported

Drop an image here or

100