Mid-cap stocks have exhibited higher returns than large-caps historically. Below we'll review the 5 best mid-cap ETFs to access the middle segment of the market in 2023.
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In a hurry? Here's the list:
- VO – Vanguard Mid-Cap ETF
- VOE – Vanguard Mid-Cap Value ETF
- VOT – Vanguard Mid-Cap Growth ETF
- SCHM – Schwab US Mid-Cap ETF
- IJH – iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF
Introduction – Why Mid Caps?
Mid-cap stocks are often referred to as the “forgotten size segment” or the “orphaned index,” due to the fact that large-caps and small-caps get all the press. Many investors tilt large-cap or small-cap, altogether ignoring or forgetting about mid-caps, or simply relegating them to their limited exposure in a total market index fund.
Small-cap stocks are usually companies in their early stages of growth. Large-caps are well-established, “stable” companies. Mid-caps, of course, are somewhere in the middle. Investors assume that mid-cap stocks carry more risk and return than small-caps, and less risk and return than large-caps, and understandably so, as this is how the Size factor premium should play out on paper. Returns going back to 1972 tell a slightly different story:
At least for the period 1972 through July 2020, mid-caps as a whole have achieved higher general and risk-adjusted returns than small-caps, with lower volatility.
So now that we know mid-caps are probably a solid investment, let's explore the 5 best mid cap ETFs.
The 5 Best Mid Cap ETFs
Below are the 5 best mid cap ETFs from various providers:
VO – Vanguard Mid-Cap ETF
The Vanguard Mid-Cap ETF (VO) is the most popular ETF for the mid cap market segment, and for good reason. The fund has over $100 billion in assets and a low expense ratio of 0.04%. This ETF gets you broad exposure to the mid-cap range of stocks with over 350 holdings, and seeks to track the CRSP US Mid Cap Index.
VOE – Vanguard Mid-Cap Value ETF
Prefer to tilt Value? Mid cap Value stocks have beaten mid cap Growth stocks historically, and with lower volatility and smaller drawdowns. The Vanguard Mid-Cap Value ETF (VOE) is the most popular ETF for this market segment. It holds over 200 mid cap value stocks. The fund seeks to track the CRSP US Mid Cap Value Index and has an expense ratio of 0.07%.
VOT – Vanguard Mid-Cap Growth ETF
Want to bet on mid cap Growth stocks instead? The Vanguard Mid-Cap Growth ETF (VOT) tracks the CRSP US Mid Cap Growth Index and has over 150 holdings and an expense ratio of 0.07%.
SCHM – Schwab US Mid-Cap ETF
The Schwab US Mid-Cap ETF (SCHM) is another great low-fee option for investing in mid-cap stocks. This ETF tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Mid-Cap Total Stock Market Index and has an expense ratio of just 0.04%.
IJH – iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF
The iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF (IJH), as the name suggests, seeks to track the S&P MidCap 400 Index. The fund has over $40 billion in assets, 400 holdings, and an expense ratio of 0.05%.
Where to Buy These Mid Cap ETFs
M1 Finance offers all these mid cap ETFs. The broker has zero trade commissions, zero account fees, and offers fractional shares, dynamic rebalancing, and a sleek, user-friendly interface and mobile app. I wrote a comprehensive review of M1 Finance here.
Canadians can find the above ETFs on Questrade or Interactive Brokers. Investors outside North America can use eToro or possibly Interactive Brokers.
Disclosures: I am long VOE.
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Disclaimer: While I love diving into investing-related data and playing around with backtests, this is not financial advice, investing advice, or tax advice. The information on this website is for informational, educational, and entertainment purposes only. Investment products discussed (ETFs, mutual funds, etc.) are for illustrative purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or otherwise transact in any of the products mentioned. I always attempt to ensure the accuracy of information presented but that accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Do your own due diligence. All investing involves risk, including the risk of losing the money you invest. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of other parties mentioned. Read my lengthier disclaimer here.
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What made you go long VOE as opposed to say VO or VOT.? Value or growth / blend?
John Williamson says
Sorry, just didn’t update this. I no longer own VOE. But I do tilt Value based on what I laid out here on factors.
You made a really compelling argument at the top of this article for owning mid-cap stocks. I’ve been playing around with some back-testing of mid-caps and surprisingly owning a single mid-cap fund would provide greater returns than a 50/50 split fund of Large-cap and small-cap value and they would do so at similar volatility. They seem to weather any economic conditions fairly well. I also prefer to tilt towards value stocks but when I saw how well a simple mid-cap blend fund could do and with such resiliency I couldn’t believe my eyes! Did you exclude them from your portfolio for any particular reason? As always, thank you for sharing,
John Williamson says
Your backtest probably didn’t go back far enough, and we’d probably want to avoid small cap growth stocks. I explained that and my incidental exclusion of mid-caps here.
True, I only back tested to 1981. When I run it again to include the 70’s small-cap value does so well it doesn’t take much of it to totally smokes all other cap sizes.