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I previously detailed some basic portfolios as well as trading ideas. In an effort to be more user friendly, I track the portfolios monthly on my blog using Google Docs. One portfolio consists of 5 basic ETFs: Vanguard's Total Bond Market ETF (NYSEARCA:BND), Powershares' Commodity Index (NYSEARCA:DBC), Vanguard's FTSE All-World ex-US ETF (NYSEARCA:VEU) , Vanguard's REIT Index ETF (NYSEARCA:VNQ) and Vanguard's Total Stock Market ETF (NYSEARCA:VTI).

Despite only being 5 ETFs, one could take multiple approaches to the portfolio, from buying and holding to actively managing it; or an investor could use a combination of different approaches or trading strategies. Listed below are the month end results for April of the 5 ETFs listed above. One could purchase the top 1,2, or 3 performing ETFs based on momentum as judged by the 3-6-12 returns or just the 6 month returns. In this case, that would indicate a purchase of VEU, VNQ, and VTI (3-6-12 strategy), or VEU, VNQ, and VTI (based on 6 month returns). This combination of ETFs has been little changed over the past several months in the basic ETF portfolio as the equity markets rebounded significantly in 2009.

Another twist an investor could add would be to purchase the underlying securities based on momentum only if they are also trading above their 200 day moving average. At the end of April, all of the securities listed were above their 200 day simply moving average.

Many of the strategies listed here were inspired in part by Mebane Faber, author of The Ivy Portfolio: How to Invest Like the Top Endowments and Avoid Bear Markets. For an even better explanation of some of the strategies, I recommend the book. Also, he has a new project which allows users to replicate the best performing hedge funds, AlphaClone.

The data source for the information below is Finviz, which has some of the best free financial data on the web (as well as a new elite service) and Google Finance.


Ticker Company Free Analysis 3 Mo. 6 Mo. Year 3-6-12 Sum 200-Day SMA
BND Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF Here 1.18% 2.45% 7.06% 10.69% 2.08%
DBC PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Here 7.71% 4.13% 22.32% 34.16% 4.08%
VEU Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF Here 6.23% 6.28% 39.85% 52.36% 2.91%
VNQ Vanguard REIT Index ETF Here 24.64% 38.47% 69.86% 132.97% 24.06%
VTI Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF Here 12.45% 17.03% 40.69%

Disclosure: No Positions

Source: Basic 5 (Or 3) ETF Portfolio for May