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TheStreet.com Rates 37 New ETFs

TheStreet.com Ratings initiated coverage of 37 exchange-traded funds that accrued a sufficient track record of risk and performance data by the end of April 2008.

Two of the funds that opened for business as recently as April of 2007 received our top rating level of Excellent. Both of these are Vanguard exchange-traded funds invested in fixed income securities.

The combination of good grades on both risk and reward resulted in A ratings for the Vanguard Intermediate Term Bond ETF (BIV) and the Vanguard Short Term Bond ETF (BSV).

For these Vanguard funds, the intermediate term refers to U.S. government debt and investment grade corporate debt for American and foreign issuers in the five to 10 year maturity range. The short-term variant is limited to just one to five year maturities. Both funds track corresponding Lehman Brothers Government/Credit indices.

Of the 10 funds where coverage was initiated at the Hold level, the SPDR S&P China ETF (GXC) stands out, with a one-year total return of 46.19%. Excessive volatility neutralized this impressive return, leading to the C rating.

New coverage in the Sell range includes the wide variety of HealthShares that I first wrote about back in March 2007.

With an initial rating of E, investors in the HealthShares Ophthalmology ETF (HHZ) are seeing red after losing 40.20% in a year. Over the same period, the holdings providing the worst of the damage include ISTA Pharmaceuticals Inc (ISTA), off 77.25%; LCA-Vision Inc (LCAV), off 75.12%; TLC Vision Corp (TLCV), off 74.70%; and Opko Health Inc (OPK), off 65.21%.

Also, speculators expecting fat returns from the E- rated HealthShares Metabolic-Endocrine Disorders ETF (HHM) ought to be roundly disappointed with a loss of 36.55%. The one-year loss of 89.61% from Nastech Pharmaceutical (NSTK), 82.12% loss in shares of MannKind (MNKD), and 72.18% drop in Altus Pharmaceuticals (ALTU) contributed most to the investor account shrinkage.

Research Methodology

TheStreet.com Ratings condenses the available fund performance and risk data into a single composite opinion of each fund's risk-adjusted performance. This allows the unbiased identification of those funds that have historically done well and those that have underperformed the market. While there is no guarantee of future performance, these investment ratings provide a solid framework for making informed, timely investment decisions.

Newly Rated ETFs for April
Fund (Ticker) Rating Total Return 1 Year % Yield % Exp Ratio % Objective
iShares Lehman MBS Fixed-Rate Bond (MBB) B 6.49 3.78 0.25 General Mortgage
Vanguard Intermediate Term Bond ETF (BIV) A 7.97 4.69 0.11 General Bd - Investment Grade
Vanguard Long-Term Bond ETF (BLV) B 5.53 5.42 0.11 General Bd - Investment Grade
Vanguard Short Term Bond ETF (BSV) A 7.64 4.00 0.11 General Bd - Investment Grade
Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND) B 7.03 4.66 0.11 General Bd - Investment Grade
Average for "BUY" Range 6.93 4.51 0.14
iShares iBoxx $ High Yld Corp (HYG) C+ 2.09 7.75 0.50 Corporate - High Yield
Market Vectors TR Russia ETF (RSX) C 28.39 0.22 0.69 Non-US Equity
PowerShares DWA Technical Leaders (PDP) C- 1.36 0.38 0.71 Equity Income
ProShares Ultra Sht Rus Mid Cap Val (SJL) C- 25.73 2.14 0.95 Growth - Domestic
SPDR S&P China ETF (GXC) C 46.19 0.77 0.59 Non-US Equity
SPDR S&P Emerging Asia Pacific ETF (GMF) C- 30.79 1.24 0.63 Emerging Market Equity
SPDR S&P Emerging Latin America ETF (GML) C+ 41.87 1.07 0.60 Emerging Market Equity
SPDR S&P Emerging Markets ETF (GMM) C 27.64 0.87 0.60 Emerging Market Equity
United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) C- -1.66 0.00 0.60 Sector - Energy/Natural Res
Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF (VEU) C- 3.86 0.89 0.25 Global Equity
Average for "HOLD" Range 20.63 1.53 0.61
Claymore Robeco Developed Intl Eq (EEN) D- -4.58 3.83 1.32 Non-US Equity
Claymore/Great Comp Lrg-Cp Grth Ind (XGC) D- -10.75 0.81 1.77 Growth - Domestic
Claymore/Ocean Tomo Grth Index ETF (OTR) E+ -1.71 0.66 2.03 Growth - Domestic
Claymore/Zacks Mid Cap Core ETF (CZA) D -6.57 0.39 1.81 Growth - Domestic
HealthShares Autoimmune-Inflammatio (HHA) E- -18.53 0.54 0.79 Sector - Health/Biotechnology
HealthShares Cancer (HHK) E 2.84 0.00 0.78 Sector - Health/Biotechnology
HealthShares Cardiology (HRD) D -3.58 0.00 0.79 Sector - Health/Biotechnology
HealthShares Composite Fund (HHQ) E+ -10.40 0.47 0.79 Sector - Health/Biotechnology
HealthShares Dermatology and Wound (HRW) E- -11.34 0.00 0.79 Sector - Health/Biotechnology
HealthShares European Drugs (HRJ) E- -12.95 0.00 0.99 Sector - Health/Biotechnology
HealthShares GI/Gender Hlth Fund (HHU) E+ -27.12 0.53 0.79 Sector - Health/Biotechnology
HealthShares Infectious Dis (HHG) E- -26.93 0.00 0.79 Sector - Health/Biotechnology
HealthShares Metabolic Endocr Disor (HHM) E- -36.55 0.44 0.79 Sector - Health/Biotechnology
HealthShares Neuroscience (HHN) E -9.81 0.00 0.79 Sector - Health/Biotechnology
HealthShares Ophthalmology (HHZ) E -40.20 0.00 0.79 Sector - Health/Biotechnology
HealthShares Respiratory/Pulmonary (HHR) E+ -25.99 5.37 0.79 Sector - Health/Biotechnology
iShares S&P U.S.Preferred Stock Ind (PFF) D- -4.48 6.83 0.48 Equity Income
NYSE Arca Tech 100 ETF (NXT) D- -5.11 0.00 0.00 Equity Income
SPDR S&P Emerg Middle East&Africa (GAF) E+ 3.14 1.49 0.59 Emerging Market Equity
SPDR S&P Emerging Europe ETF (GUR) E 7.26 0.58 0.60 Emerging Market Equity
SPDR S&P International Small Cap (GWX) E -7.34 0.94 0.59 Non-US Equity
SPDR S&P WORLD EX-US ETF (GWL) D+ -0.85 1.79 0.35 Global Equity
Average for "SELL" Range -11.43 1.12 0.87
Source: TheStreet.com Ratings

Funds rated A or B are considered Buy rated, based on a track record of higher-than-average risk-adjusted performance. Funds at the C level are rated as Hold, while underperformers at the D and E levels our model ranks as Sell.

For an explanation of our ratings, click here.

Kevin Baker became the senior financial analyst for TSC Ratings upon the August 2006 acquisition of Weiss Ratings by TheStreet.com, covering mutual funds. He joined the Weiss Group in 1997 as a banking and brokerage analyst. In 1999, he created the Weiss Group's first ratings to gauge the level of risk in U.S. equities. Baker received a B.S. degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. with a finance specialization from Nova Southeastern University.

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