The Best Equity ETFs
These stock-focused exchange-traded funds all earn Gold ratings.
There’s a lot to like about exchange-traded funds.
Given these qualities, ETFs can make terrific portfolio building blocks because they allow you to get exposure to the parts of the market that you want—and to avoid the parts of the market you don’t want.
A good place to start your screening process is with the Morningstar Analyst Rating. ETFs that earn our top rating—Gold—are those that we think are most likely to outperform over a full market cycle.
Today, we’re taking a look at the best stock-focused ETFs in three main asset-allocation categories: U.S. large company stocks, U.S. mid-cap and small company stocks, and international stocks.
These ETFs all land in one of Morningstar’s U.S. large-cap stock categories and earn our top Analyst Rating of Gold as of June 2022.
The funds in this group provide exposure to the stocks of large companies, making them fine anchors for an equity portfolio. But there are strategic differences among them.
Some ETFs in the group—including iShares Core S&P 500 ETF and Vanguard S&P 500 ETF—track the S&P 500. As a result, they provide access to large-cap stocks representing about 80% of the U.S. stock market.
Others on the list—such as iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF, Schwab U.S. Broad Market ETF, and Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF—follow broader market indexes that include more stocks, some of which are smaller-cap names. While these funds also land in the large-blend Morningstar Category, they expose investors to a wider pool of stocks and market capitalizations.
Still other ETFs on the list provide exposure to a subset of stocks. Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF, for instance, exclusively focuses on dividend-paying stocks. Moreover, some names on the list focus on growth stocks, while others explore value stocks.
You can find more top-rated ETFs on our Morningstar Medalist ETFs list.
These ETFs all land in one of Morningstar’s U.S. mid- or small-cap stock categories and earn our top Analyst Rating of Gold as of June 2022.
Mid- and small-cap stocks certainly aren’t portfolio essentials, especially if you already own one of the broader market index ETFs from the large-blend category—if you do, you already have some mid- and small-cap stock exposure.
However, if you have a large-stock-focused portfolio or if you’d like to boost your weighting in small company stocks, you’ll find what you need among our Gold-rated ETFs in the mid- and small-cap categories.
Some ETFs focus exclusively on mid-cap stocks, while others target smaller company stocks; in addition, some skew toward growth stocks, while others favor value stocks.
You can find more top rated ETFs on our Medalist ETFs list.
These ETFs all land in one of Morningstar’s foreign or global stock categories and earn our top Analyst Rating of Gold as of June 2022.
Like mid- and small-cap funds, international-stock ETFs certainly aren’t must-owns. After all, from a risk-reduction standpoint, international stocks aren’t great diversification tools for a portfolio heavy in U.S. stocks. But remember that investment opportunities exist around the globe; many think it’s a mistake to limit your investments to U.S. stocks.
The Gold-rated ETFs here target stocks of varying sizes and styles across international markets. If none of these ETFs fits the bill for you, you can find additional top rated ETFs on our Medalist ETFs list.
Many investors equate ETFs with low-cost indexing. But the ETF marketplace has grown increasingly complicated. Some ETFs track a very narrow part of the market or pursue specific themes. Some ETFs invest based on a particular factor or a combination of them. And now there are even actively managed ETFs. To help figure out which ETFs are best for you, read “Morningstar’s Guide to ETFs.” And if you’re specifically looking for a bond ETF, check out “The Best Bond ETFs.”
Susan Dziubinski does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.