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Small Cap Value ETFs: A Guide

Stocks in this article: DSV PWY JKL

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Small cap funds have been the top performers in 2010. Throughout this week I have highlighted my picks for the strongest small cap core and growth focused instruments.

Although investors holding funds representing those styles would have benefited throughout the first months of the year, the most impressive performance among the small cap ETFs has come from those focused on value.

As with ETFs focused on domestic small-cap core and growth, a number of funds dedicated to playing value have failed to generate enough interest from investors. The SPDR Dow Jones U.S. Small Cap Value ETF (DVS), iShares Morningstar Small Cap Value Index Fund (JKL), and the PowerShares Dynamic Small Cap Value Fund (PWY) all have three-month average trading volumes that fail to breach 40,000.

On the other hand, the funds I consider to be the strongest and most stable value-focused small cap ETFs have changed hands over 100 thousand times per day over the past three months.

The ETFs meeting this criterion include Rydex S&P SmallCap 600 Pure Value ETF (RZV); iShares Russell 2000 Value Index Fund (IWN); iShares S&P 600 Small Cap Value Index Fund (IJS); and the Vanguard Small Cap Value ETF (VBR).

When it comes to performance through 2010, RZV has a comfortable lead over competitors, gaining over 20%. IWN, which has seen the second best performance this year, has gained 14%.

RZV's outperfomance can be attributed to its pure value index which sets it apart from competitors.

According to Standard and Poor's, the pure style weighting technique excludes the companies which exhibit qualities which place them in the middle ground between growth and value. There is no overlap between pure value and pure growth indexes, but this leads to a more narrow focus and higher turnover.

Ultimately, rather than tracking the broad slice of small-cap value companies from a market cap perspective, RZV's index is weighted according to value.

RZV's sector breakdown is considerably different from IWN, IJS and VBR. At 28%, consumer discretionary firms command the largest single slice of the fund's portfolio. Financials and industrials represent the next largest slices, making up 20% each.

Comparatively, financials represent the largest slices of the other three products, accounting for one third of both VBR and IWN and close to a quarter of IJS' portfolio. Consumer discretionary firms represent 13% of VBR and IWN and 15% of IJS.

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