Despite everything that happened in 2020 - the global COVID-19 pandemic, the bear market in February/March, a global economic recession the likes we haven't seen since the Great Depression - the stock market still managed to deliver solid returns in 2020.
We can thank the government and the Fed for supplying the economy with a virtually unlimited amount of equity in order to keep the financial markets flowing and investors buying.
Through the middle of December, the S&P 500 is up 16%, while the Russell 2000 has gained 19%. But for a handful of ETFs, the returns have been much, much bigger.
Even excluding leveraged ETFs, a total of 16 ETFs have already returned more than 100% year-to-date. It's not necessarily a diverse group of funds though. Of the 16 triple digit gainers, 7 of them target the solar and clean energy industry, 4 come from the ARK ETF family and 2 target online retailers.
Here are 2020's top gainers.
ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (ARKG)
ARKG is 2020's top performing ETF with a gain of more than 180%. The fund targets companies engaged in modern medicine, bioinformatics and therapeutics.
Invesco Solar ETF (TAN)
TAN is the first of three Invesco ETFs on the list, all focused on clean energy. This fund more narrowly targets the solar energy space and is up more 170% year-to-date. Interestingly, TAN is still down more than 50% since its 2008 inception.
Invesco WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (PBW)
Invesco owns two of the top three spots. PBW takes a broader approach than TAN by focusing on the entire clean energy industry. It's up 162% for 2020.
ARK Next Generation Internet ETF (ARKW)
As I noted just recently, ARK has been one of the biggest ETF industry success stories. ARKW targets companies heavily involved in cloud computing, big data, e-commerce and the growing internet of things. It's up 150%.
First Trust NASDAQ Clean Edge Green Energy ETF (QCLN)
Another entry in the clean energy space, QCLN is First Trust's entry targeting the booming industry. It's a little different in that focuses on companies involved in the manufacturing, distribution and installation of clean energy systems. QCLN has gained 149% year-to-date.
ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK)
ARKK is ARK's third and largest ETF on this list growing to more than $16 billion in assets. It follows the broader theme of disruptive innovation covering many different industries. It's up 147% in 2020.
Renaissance IPO ETF (IPO)
Finally, a theme other than innovation and clean energy! IPO targets recently newly listed companies and aims to add them to the portfolio before they get picked up by the bigger indices. Despite COVID-related headwinds, the IPO market remains hot and this fund is up more than 110% year-to-date.
Amplify Online Retail ETF (IBUY)
The online retail industry has been growing rapidly for a while. The coronavirus pandemic merely accelerated an existing trend. These companies have grown revenues faster than expected and this ETF is up 110%.
Invesco Global Clean Energy ETF (PBD)
Here's the third Invesco ETF focusing on clean energy. PBD focuses on global companies, a minor difference in comparison to TAN and PBW. Like the others, it's up well over 100% year-to-date.
ALPS Clean Energy ETF (ACES)
Five of the year's top 10 performing ETFs target clean energy. ACES targets U.S. and Canadian companies involved in clean tech and renewables. Year-to-date, it's up "only" 109%.