In the 20+ years that ETFs have been around, we have seen a number of economic shifts all over the world. Among those have been some of the strongest bull markets in investing history. As a result, a number of ETFs have turned in impressive performances.
We took a look back at the annual performance of every ETF to find some of the most notable gains in a single calendar year, and the results may surprise you. Below, we display every fund that gained more than 75% in a single year, note that we excluded leveraged/inverse products from the list. All returns have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
1999: International Economies Thrive
At the height of the internet bubble there were just 31 funds in existence. Two of them were able to transcend the 75% for the year, as the MSCI Malaysia Index Fund (EWM, B+) and the MSCI Mexico Index Fund (EWW, A) enjoyed a great year.
2003: Tech on the Rise
As the global economy picked itself up and got back on track, two tech ETFs were able to turn in an impressive year. However, the title for best performance was reserved for the MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (EWZ, B+), which grew by 117% as the BRIC nation saw a surge in economic activity.
2006: China Stands Out
2006 really cemented the idea that emerging markets can perform incredibly well. The FTSE China 25 Index Fund (FXI, B+) gained a whopping 81% in a year where the S&P 500 grew by 16%.
2007: Before the Fallout
As the housing bubble was building, a few ETFs were able to come away with incredible performances in 2007. Brazil and India continued the theme of emerging markets outperforming more developed nations, but investors may be surprised to see the Market Vectors Steel Index ETF (SLX, B+) fall into the mix. Steel prices soared so much that year that a number of firms began to grow nervous that foreign competition would step in and undercut.
2009: The Comeback Kids
As global stocks began their comeback from the Great Recession, an impressive 39 funds brought in annual performances above the 75% mark. The majority of these products were focused either on emerging markets or commodities, though the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT, A) made its way into the mix.
2010: Silver Bells
Five funds returned more than 75% in 2010 with four of them being dedicated to silver. The year’s top performer was the Dow Jones-UBS Cotton Total Return Sub-Index ETN (BAL, B+), as cotton prices began soaring towards the end of the year. They would continue their run, reaching highs in early 2011 before settling back down.
2012: Construction on the Rise
Just one fund was able to chart a meteoric rise in 2012. The iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (ITB, A-) jumped 79% as the housing recovery continued to pick up steam.
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Disclosure: no positions at time of writing.