Best Performing ETFs of 2011 – Leveraged and Traditional Classes

by ETF Base on January 1, 2012

With 2011 wrapping up, we saw US indices close roughly flat on the year (slight gain on the Dow and a huge move for the Dogs of the Dow especially, at 17%), but global markets swooned, especially those in the developing world and Europe.  It shouldn’t come as a major surprise then, that the major story for 2011 in ETFs was that of the Treasury ETF.  While a great strategy historically has been to short Treasuries with out of the money calls, even that strategy failed on certain occasions when the underlying ETFs moved too quickly and positions had to be covered.  Other trends and stories will be evident below in the Top 10 for each class – both leveraged and non-leveraged ETFs.  I wanted to include non-leveraged since it gives a more true picture of the actual top performing sectors, as not all sectors have a 3X leverage equivalent and most leveraged ETFs go to zero eventually, further distorting real gains from the underlying sectors.


Top 10 Non-Leveraged ETFs of 2011



ZROZ 58.85 % PIMCO 25+ Yr Zero Cpn U.S. Trsy Idx ETF
EDV 56.14 % Vanguard Extended Dur Treas Idx Instl
DTYL 46.16 % iPath US Treasury 10-year Bull ETN
DLBL 42.87 % iPath US Treasury Long Bond Bull ETN
TLT 33.56 % iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treas Bond
TLO 29.4 % SPDR Barclays Capital Long Term Treasury
VGLT 29.14 % Vanguard Long-Term Govt Bond Idx Instl
FLAT 26.76 % iPath US Treasury Flattener ETN
LTPZ 25.06 % PIMCO 15+ Year US TIPS Index ETF
BABS 24.02 % SPDR Nuveen Barclays Cap Build Amer Bd


Top 10 Leveraged ETFs of 2011


LBND 117.85 % PowerShares DB 3x Lng 25+ Yr Trsy Bd ETN
TMF 109.08 % Direxion Daily 20+ Yr Trsy Bull 3X Shrs
INDZ 78.72 % Direxion Daily India Bear 3X Shares
UBT 72.77 % ProShares Ultra 20+ Year Treasury
TYD 48.45 % Direxion Daily 7-10 Yr Trsy Bull 3X Shrs
BOM 41.84 % PowerShares DB Base Metals Dble Shrt ETN
UPW 35.21 % ProShares Ultra Utilities
MLPL 31.89 % UBS E-TRACS 2x Long Alerian MLP Infr ETN
BZQ 25.83 % ProShares UltraShort MSCI Brazil
RXL 17.82 % ProShares Ultra Health Care

Admittedly, the non-leveraged top ETF list is pretty boring to look at – it’s all Treasuries!  But that was the story of 2011 – the flight to safety.  For a large part of 2011, it was a flight to gold as well, but as I warned in September in 5 Reasons to Avoid Gold ETFs (when gold was appreciably higher than it is now in spite of Russia, Iran, Egypt and Europe worsening), that story may well have been played out regardless of what happens in the near-term.

Disclosure: No position in any ETFs covered in this article

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