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Is SPDR MSCI USA StrategicFactors ETF (QUS) a Strong ETF Right Now?

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Making its debut on 04/15/2015, smart beta exchange traded fund SPDR MSCI USA StrategicFactors ETF (QUS - Free Report) provides investors broad exposure to the Style Box - Large Cap Blend category of the market.

What Are Smart Beta ETFs?

Market cap weighted indexes were created to reflect the market, or a specific segment of the market, and the ETF industry has traditionally been dominated by products based on this strategy.

Because market cap weighted indexes provide a low-cost, convenient, and transparent way of replicating market returns, they work well for investors who believe in market efficiency.

On the other hand, some investors who believe that it is possible to beat the market by superior stock selection opt to invest in another class of funds that track non-cap weighted strategies--popularly known as smart beta.

Non-cap weighted indexes try to choose stocks that have a better chance of risk-return performance, which is based on specific fundamental characteristics, or a mix of other such characteristics.

Even though this space provides many choices to investors--think one of the simplest methodologies like equal-weighting and more complicated ones like fundamental and volatility/momentum based weighting--not all have been able to deliver first-rate results.

Fund Sponsor & Index

The fund is managed by State Street Global Advisors. QUS has been able to amass assets over $884.72 million, making it one of the larger ETFs in the Style Box - Large Cap Blend. Before fees and expenses, QUS seeks to match the performance of the MSCI USA Factor Mix A-Series Index.

The MSCI USA Factor Mix A-Series Index measures the equity market performance of large and mid-cap companies across the U.S. equity market. It aims to represent the performance of a combination of three factors: value, quality, and low volatility.

Cost & Other Expenses

For ETF investors, expense ratios are an important factor when considering a fund's return; in the long-term, cheaper funds actually have the ability to outperform their more expensive cousins if all other things remain the same.

Annual operating expenses for QUS are 0.15%, which makes it one of the cheaper products in the space.

The fund has a 12-month trailing dividend yield of 1.46%.

Sector Exposure and Top Holdings

It is important to delve into an ETF's holdings before investing despite the many upsides to these kinds of funds like diversified exposure, which minimizes single stock risk. And, most ETFs are very transparent products that disclose their holdings on a daily basis.

This ETF has heaviest allocation in the Information Technology sector - about 26.10% of the portfolio. Healthcare and Financials round out the top three.

Looking at individual holdings, Apple Inc. (AAPL - Free Report) accounts for about 2.94% of total assets, followed by Microsoft Corporation (MSFT - Free Report) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report) .

QUS's top 10 holdings account for about 20.11% of its total assets under management.

Performance and Risk

Year-to-date, the SPDR MSCI USA StrategicFactors ETF has lost about -10.87% so far, and is down about -4.48% over the last 12 months (as of 08/01/2022). QUS has traded between $103.89 and $131.16 in this past 52-week period.

The fund has a beta of 0.92 and standard deviation of 23.05% for the trailing three-year period, which makes QUS a medium risk choice in this particular space. With about 628 holdings, it effectively diversifies company-specific risk.


SPDR MSCI USA StrategicFactors ETF is a reasonable option for investors seeking to outperform the Style Box - Large Cap Blend segment of the market. However, there are other ETFs in the space which investors could consider.

IShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV - Free Report) tracks S&P 500 Index and the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY - Free Report) tracks S&P 500 Index. IShares Core S&P 500 ETF has $306.38 billion in assets, SPDR S&P 500 ETF has $377.02 billion. IVV has an expense ratio of 0.03% and SPY charges 0.09%.

Investors looking for cheaper and lower-risk options should consider traditional market cap weighted ETFs that aim to match the returns of the Style Box - Large Cap Blend.

Bottom Line

To learn more about this product and other ETFs, screen for products that match your investment objectives and read articles on latest developments in the ETF investing universe, please visit Zacks ETF Center.

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