John Rekenthaler, columnist for Morningstar.com and a member of Morningstar’s investment research department, recently identified the six best “true” S&P 500 index funds out of the more than 250 funds and ETFs with “500” in their names.
After identifying those funds, ranking them was straightforward because they all mimicked the same benchmark.
That’s not the case with the nine funds that buy the entire U.S. stock market, he writes in a new blog post. Researchers no longer can look to a single total market standard, whereas in the past they invariably cited the Wilshire 5000 index.
“In fact,” he writes, “of the nine total stock market index funds with 10-year records (retail funds only, cheapest share class), none claims the Wilshire 5000 Index as its benchmark.”
The choice of index matters little, he says, as only six basis points separated the leading benchmark from the laggard for the 10 years from January 2012 through December 2021:
- Russell 3000: 16.30%
- CRSP U.S. Stock Market: 16.29%
- Dow Jones U.S. Broad Market: 16.27%
- S&P U.S. Total Market: 16.25%
- Dow Jones U.S. Stock Market: 16.24%
Instead of judging the nine funds with 10-year track records by the benchmarks they mimic, Rekenthaler applied a three-part scoring system: total returns, tracking error and expense ratio.
He sorted the funds along each of the three measures, then summed those scores to arrive at an overall ranking.
See the gallery for the nine best total U.S. stock market funds.