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The Best-Performing ETFs of 2008

A more traditional health/biotech fund, the SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF (XPH) is invested in cash-rich "big-pharma" firms that some industry analysts say are gearing up to acquire companies, such as those that kept BBH above water during the year.

XPH's biggest holdings include Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), Abbott Labs (ABT), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Pfizer (PFE).

Finally, the nearby table also includes the top three funds in a popular area of ETF investing: currency and commodity funds. Even though the U.S. dollar regained lost ground vis-à-vis the euro and U.K. pound, investors who speculated on the strength of the Swiss franc and the Japanese yen by buying the currency ETFs in the table achieved profits in 2008.

2008's TOP-PERFORMING ETFs
NAME, TICKER & TheStreet.com RATINGS GRADE
1-MO. TOTAL RET'N (%)
3-MO. TOTAL RET'N (%)
CAL. 2008 TOTAL RET'N (%)
MARKET CAP ($MIL.)
TOTAL EXPENSE RATIO (%)
LEVERAGED & INVERSE ETFs
ProShares Ultra Short Semiconductor (SSG) A-
-21.57
23.59
107.69
67.7
0.95
ProShares Ultra Short Technology (REW) C
-9.95
30.66
94.45
87.6
0.95
ProShares Ult Sht Rus Mid Cp Growth (SDK) A+
-15.46
27.32
94.06
33.3
0.95
FIXED-INCOME ETFs
Vanguard Extended Duration Treasury (EDV) U
20.95
45.82
54.51
6.6
0.14
iShares Lehman 20+Yr Treasury Bond (TLT) A+
13.64
27.51
33.92
1,834.0
0.15
SPDR Lehman Long Term Treasury ETF (TLO) A-
8.95
18.53
23.91
12.1
0.14
NON-LEVERAGED EQUITY ETFs
HOLDRS Biotech (BBH) B-
7.57
-4.21
10.34
1,443.8
0.00
SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI) D+
9.27
-10.82
-8.61
226.0
0.35
SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF (XPH) C+
8.56
-3.05
-8.99
8.4
0.35
CURRENCY & COMMODITY ETFs
iPath JPY/USD Exchange Rate ETN (JYN) B+
5.22
16.62
22.91
12.69
0.40
CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust (FXY) A-
5.53
17.26
22.87
751.81
0.40
CurrencyShares Swiss Franc Trust (FXF) B+
14.04
5.67
7.63
445.47
0.40
TheStreet.com Ratings & Bloomberg (Data as of 12/31/2008)
For an explanation of our ratings, click here.

Richard Widows is a senior financial analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, Widows was senior product manager for quantitative analytics at Thomson Financial. After receiving an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University in California, his career included development of investment information systems at data firms, including the Lipper division of Reuters. His international experience includes assignments in the U.K. and East Asia.
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