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number cruncher

What are we looking for?

Capping off the year with 2022′s best-performing boring funds.

The screen

Let’s face it, unless you were overweight energy this year or somehow short cryptocurrencies, it’s probably not going to feel like your portfolio did you any favours in 2022. Case in point, looking across the 1,100 or so exchange-traded funds and D-class mutual funds (those available to do-it-yourself investors) from Canadian-domiciled fund companies, just 28 of them have produced double-digit gains year to date. One-quarter of these were energy sector funds, and the top two were a leveraged oil ETF and an inverse bitcoin ETF – neither of which are meant for the faint of heart.

For the rest of us, I’ve chosen to cap off 2022 with a search for plain vanilla funds that have produced fairly reasonable returns this year to understand how the landscape looked for the DIY investor.

To do this, I searched Morningstar Direct across the fund universe described above for funds that have posted a positive year-to-date after-fee total return, have received a Morningstar Rating of four stars or better and do not belong to alternative, commodity or miscellaneous type categories as defined by Morningstar’s broad category groups. Basically, I wanted to look at plain vanilla equity, fixed income and allocation funds.

The goal is to find fund managers who have proven themselves against their peers over the past three years or more, and who are among the best performers so far in 2022 across the universe of funds and ETFs available to DIY investors.

What we found

14 ‘Plain vanilla’ funds with reasonable returns

NameTickerMER (%)Morningstar CategoryMorningstar Rating OverallTotal Ret YTD (%)Total Ret 1 Yr (%)Total Ret Annlzd 3 Yr (%)Total Ret Annlzd 5 Yr (%)Total Ret Annlzd 10 Yr (%)Total Ret Annlzd 15 Yr (%)Inception Date
Horizons Active Cdn Dividend ETF CommHAL0.67Canadian Dividend & Income Equity4 Stars6.239.398.028.609.352/9/2010
TD Canadian Blue Chip Dividend D1.19Canadian Dividend & Income Equity4 Stars4.807.789.878.064/26/2016
PH&N Dividend Income Fund D0.99Canadian Dividend & Income Equity4 Stars2.415.7310.338.068.736.186/30/1977
Invesco FTSE RAFI Canadian ETFPXC0.51Canadian Equity4 Stars3.506.7810.808.018.581/10/2012
FT Canadian Capital Strength ETF CommFST0.66Canadian Equity4 Stars3.066.538.276.538.774.1811/30/2001
McElvaine Value B1.91Canadian Focused Small/Mid Cap Equity4 Stars8.258.6619.648.978.342.299/30/1996
Horizons Active Ultra S/T US IG Bd ETFHUF.U0.47Global Corporate Fixed Income4 Stars6.945.611.982.985.072/15/2012
BMO Ultra Short-Term US Bond ETF USD AccZUS.V0.17Global Fixed Income5 Stars7.946.461.432/12/2019
iShares Global Infrastructure ETF CommCIF0.73Global Infrastructure Equity5 Stars9.7111.7610.659.459.898/27/2008
BMO Global Infrastructure ETFZGI0.61Global Infrastructure Equity5 Stars8.9111.478.198.3611.231/19/2010
BMO International Div Hdgd to CAD ETFZDH0.44International Equity4 Stars4.837.214.334.369/2/2015
Beutel Goodman American Equity Class D1.49US Equity5 Stars11.6412.9810.209.8815.5511.004/1/1991
BMO Low Volatility US Equity ETF (CAD)ZLU0.33US Equity5 Stars10.0911.9110.7911.543/19/2013
TD Q U.S. Small-Mid-Cap Equity ETFTQSM0.45US Small/Mid Cap Equity5 Stars3.495.068.3911/20/2019

Source: Morningstar Direct | Data as of Dec. 14, 2022

The ETFs and mutual funds that met the above requirements are listed in the accompanying table, alongside their category, fees, trailing performance and inception dates. Savvy readers will notice the range of actively managed and passively managed funds and ETFs, which span many different categories.

Also included in the table, but not used in the search criteria, are Morningstar’s globe rating (formally known as the Morningstar Sustainability Rating) for funds. It measures risks related to environmental, social and governance factors that can have financially material impacts on a portfolio. Interested investors should first consider the category each fund is in, as this is the basis of the star rating and a way to understand the asset allocation within the fund.

This article does not constitute financial advice. Investors are encouraged to conduct their own independent research before purchasing any of the investments listed here.

Ian Tam, CFA, is director of investment research for Morningstar Canada.

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