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New ETFs for Plain Vanilla Investors

Claymore has launched three funds to track different slices of the Wilshire 5000 Index.
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) -- As evidenced by February's ETF flows, droves of investors have been piling into plain vanilla exchange traded funds. Given this preference, Claymore could not have picked a better time to launch its family of Wilshire 5000-focused exchange traded funds.

On Tuesday, the company launched three funds designed to track different slices of the Wilshire 5000 Index: the

Claymore Wilshire 5000 Total Market ETF


, the

Claymore Wilshire 4500 Completion ETF


, and the

Claymore Wilshire U.S. REIT ETF



Broad-based funds such as these are a throwback to the roots of the exchange traded fund industry. Today, ETF investors can track everything from TIPS to biotech to natural gas, but the very first exchange traded fund was designed as a simple catch-all for investors looking for cheap exposure to the broad S&P 500.

Broad index funds like the


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, the

PowerShares QQQ


, and the

SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF


remain some of the largest, most liquid instruments in the industry.

In the past, Claymore has been known for niche products that have provided investors with the first pure plays on unique market slices such as Chinese real estate via the

Claymore/AlphaShares China Real Estate ETF


, shipping with the

Claymore/Delta Global Shipping Index ETF


, airlines using the

Claymore/NYSE Arca Airline ETF


, and solar power with the

Claymore/MAC Global Solar Energy Index ETF



With the launch of three funds to track different slices of the Wilshire index, it appears that the Claymore is making an effort to ride the broad equity index wave.

Established in 1974, the Wilshire 5000 Index, like the

S&P 500


Dow Jones Industrial Average

, is used as a barometer for the U.S. economy. Setting this index apart from the others, however, is the sheer depth of its holdings. Unlike the S&P and Dow, which track a representative sample of U.S. based companies, the Wilshire is a market cap- weighted basket of every stock traded in the United States.

Despite the fact that the index is called the Wilshire 5000, the total number of constituents varies. According to the Claymore Website, the index currently underlying WFVK includes slightly more than 4,000 companies. The product has 1,197 holdings, with top constituents such as

Exxon Mobil









Procter & Gamble



Johnson & Johnson



The Claymore Wilshire 4500 Completion Index, which is designed to follow the performance of the Wilshire 4500, tracks all companies trading in the United States that are not included in the S&P 500. The WREI is designed to be a pure play for investors seeking a play on all available REITs trading in the U.S.

While WXSP and WREI are the first of their kind, this is not the first time an ETF or mutual fund has attempted to copy the performance of the all-encompassing Wilshire 5000. The

SPDR Dow Jones Total Market ETF


tracks the same index as WFVK, although its basket is made up of considerably fewer positions.

Additionally, while they track the MSCI US Broad Market Index today, the

Vanguard Total Market ETF



Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund


originally tracked the Wilshire 5000.

Aiding the appeal of Claymore's new instrument is an attractive 0.12% expense ratio. By comparison, TWM, which will suffer from greater tracking error due to its more concentrated exposure, charges 0.21%.

WXSP will cost investors 0.18% while WREI charges 0.32%.

Although WFVK is a great fund for investors looking for the ultimate equity catch-all, in the end, the largest hurdle standing in this fund's way will be volume. Despite the fact that investors are returning to broad equity index funds, the Wilshire 5000 has not traditionally been as appealing to investors as the S&P and Dow. As a result, TWM has typically been an illiquid fund.

Claymore's new instrument will have to rely on its more diverse holdings and cheap expense ratio to pull in investors. If it fails on those scores, this fund will most likely falter.

-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

At the time of publication, Dion owned PowerShares QQQ.

Don Dion is president and founder of

Dion Money Management

, a fee-based investment advisory firm to affluent individuals, families and nonprofit organizations, where he is responsible for setting investment policy, creating custom portfolios and overseeing the performance of client accounts. Founded in 1996 and based in Williamstown, Mass., Dion Money Management manages assets for clients in 49 states and 11 countries. Dion is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and Maine and has more than 25 years' experience working in the financial markets, having founded and run two publicly traded companies before establishing Dion Money Management.

Dion also is publisher of the Fidelity Independent Adviser family of newsletters, which provides to a broad range of investors his commentary on the financial markets, with a specific emphasis on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. With more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and 29 other countries, Fidelity Independent Adviser publishes six monthly newsletters and three weekly newsletters. Its flagship publication, Fidelity Independent Adviser, has been published monthly for 11 years and reaches 40,000 subscribers.