The popular $35B Vanguard REIT Index Fund (NYSEARCA:VNQ) is lagging the S&P 500 Real Estate's 8.2% year-to-date return. Far smaller funds which track the S&P gauge closer - the $2.5B Real Estate Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLRE) and the $400M Fidelity MSCI Real Estate Index ETF (NYSEARCA:FREL) - have returned 8.6% and 6.8%, respectively.
What gives? VNQ's benchmark, the MSCI U.S. REIT Index, lacks exposure to certain specialty REITs, as well as real estate services and development companies. XLRE and FREL, for instance, count American Tower (NYSE:AMT), Crown Castle (NYSE:CCI), and Weyerhaeuser (NYSE:WY) among their biggest positions, while those names don't appear at all in the VNQ portfolio.
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