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PFF vs. VXF: What’s The Difference?

The iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF (PFF) and the Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund ETF Shares (VXF) are both among the Top 100 ETFs. PFF is a iShares Preferred Stock fund and VXF is a Vanguard Mid-Cap Growth fund. So, what’s the difference between PFF and VXF? And which fund is better?

The expense ratio of PFF is 0.40 percentage points higher than VXF’s (0.46% vs. 0.06%). PFF also has a higher exposure to the utilities sector and a lower standard deviation. Overall, PFF has provided lower returns than VXF over the past 11 years.

In this article, we’ll compare PFF vs. VXF. We’ll look at fund composition and risk metrics, as well as at their performance and industry exposure. Moreover, I’ll also discuss PFF’s and VXF’s portfolio growth, annual returns, and holdings and examine how these affect their overall returns.

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Summary

PFFVXF
NameiShares Preferred and Income Securities ETFVanguard Extended Market Index Fund ETF Shares
CategoryPreferred StockMid-Cap Growth
IssueriSharesVanguard
AUM19.8B114.53B
Avg. Return6.90%15.47%
Div. Yield4.47%1.19%
Expense Ratio0.46%0.06%

The iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF (PFF) is a Preferred Stock fund that is issued by iShares. It currently has 19.8B total assets under management and has yielded an average annual return of 6.90% over the past 10 years. The fund has a dividend yield of 4.47% with an expense ratio of 0.46%.

The Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund ETF Shares (VXF) is a Mid-Cap Growth fund that is issued by Vanguard. It currently has 114.53B total assets under management and has yielded an average annual return of 15.47% over the past 10 years. The fund has a dividend yield of 1.19% with an expense ratio of 0.06%.

PFF’s dividend yield is 3.28% higher than that of VXF (4.47% vs. 1.19%). Also, PFF yielded on average 8.58% less per year over the past decade (6.90% vs. 15.47%). The expense ratio of PFF is 0.40 percentage points higher than VXF’s (0.46% vs. 0.06%).

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Fund Composition

Industry Exposure

PFF vs. VXF - Industry Exposure

PFFVXF
Technology0.0%23.61%
Industrials10.27%11.31%
Energy0.0%2.46%
Communication Services0.0%7.29%
Utilities81.81%1.65%
Healthcare3.54%15.25%
Consumer Defensive0.0%3.09%
Real Estate0.65%8.16%
Financial Services0.0%12.56%
Consumer Cyclical0.0%11.35%
Basic Materials3.74%3.26%

The iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF (PFF) has the most exposure to the Utilities sector at 81.81%. This is followed by Industrials and Basic Materials at 10.27% and 3.74% respectively. Financial Services (0.0%), Consumer Defensive (0.0%), and Communication Services (0.0%) only make up 0.00% of the fund’s total assets.

PFF’s mid-section with moderate exposure is comprised of Energy, Technology, Real Estate, Healthcare, and Basic Materials stocks at 0.0%, 0.0%, 0.65%, 3.54%, and 3.74%.

The Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund ETF Shares (VXF) has the most exposure to the Technology sector at 23.61%. This is followed by Healthcare and Financial Services at 15.25% and 12.56% respectively. Energy (2.46%), Consumer Defensive (3.09%), and Basic Materials (3.26%) only make up 8.81% of the fund’s total assets.

VXF’s mid-section with moderate exposure is comprised of Communication Services, Real Estate, Industrials, Consumer Cyclical, and Financial Services stocks at 7.29%, 8.16%, 11.31%, 11.35%, and 12.56%.

PFF is 80.16% more exposed to the Utilities sector than VXF (81.81% vs 1.65%). PFF’s exposure to Industrials and Basic Materials stocks is 1.04% lower and 0.48% higher respectively (10.27% vs. 11.31% and 3.74% vs. 3.26%). In total, Financial Services, Consumer Defensive, and Communication Services also make up 22.94% less of the fund’s holdings compared to VXF (0.00% vs. 22.94%).

Holdings

PFF - Holdings

PFF HoldingsWeight
Broadcom Inc Broadcom Inc 8 % Mandatory Convertible Preferred Stock Ser A2.54%
BlackRock Cash Funds Treasury SL Agency2.3%
Wells Fargo & Co 7 1/2 % Non Cum Perp Conv Pfd Shs -A- Series -L-1.79%
Bank of America Corp 7 1/4 % Non-Cum Perp Conv Pfd Shs Series -L-1.49%
ArcelorMittal S.A. 5.5%1.36%
Danaher Corp PRF CONVERT 15/04/2022 USD – Ser A1.35%
Danaher Corp 5% PRF PERPETUAL USD 1000 – Ser B1.14%
NextEra Energy Inc Unit1.12%
Citigroup Capital XIII Floating Rate Trust Pfd Secs Registered 2010-30.10.41.08%
Avantor Inc Ser A0.99%

PFF’s Top Holdings are Broadcom Inc Broadcom Inc 8 % Mandatory Convertible Preferred Stock Ser A, BlackRock Cash Funds Treasury SL Agency, Wells Fargo & Co 7 1/2 % Non Cum Perp Conv Pfd Shs -A- Series -L-, Bank of America Corp 7 1/4 % Non-Cum Perp Conv Pfd Shs Series -L-, and ArcelorMittal S.A. 5.5% at 2.54%, 2.3%, 1.79%, 1.49%, and 1.36%.

Danaher Corp PRF CONVERT 15/04/2022 USD – Ser A (1.35%), Danaher Corp 5% PRF PERPETUAL USD 1000 – Ser B (1.14%), and NextEra Energy Inc Unit (1.12%) have a slightly smaller but still significant weight. Citigroup Capital XIII Floating Rate Trust Pfd Secs Registered 2010-30.10.4 and Avantor Inc Ser A are also represented in the PFF’s holdings at 1.08% and 0.99%.

VXF - Holdings

VXF HoldingsWeight
Square Inc A1.2%
Zoom Video Communications Inc1.04%
Uber Technologies Inc0.93%
Moderna Inc0.9%
Blackstone Group Inc0.83%
Snap Inc Class A0.8%
Twilio Inc A0.73%
DocuSign Inc0.68%
CrowdStrike Holdings Inc Class A0.63%
Marvell Technology Inc0.6%

VXF’s Top Holdings are Square Inc A, Zoom Video Communications Inc, Uber Technologies Inc, Moderna Inc, and Blackstone Group Inc at 1.2%, 1.04%, 0.93%, 0.9%, and 0.83%.

Snap Inc Class A (0.8%), Twilio Inc A (0.73%), and DocuSign Inc (0.68%) have a slightly smaller but still significant weight. CrowdStrike Holdings Inc Class A and Marvell Technology Inc are also represented in the VXF’s holdings at 0.63% and 0.6%.

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Risk Analysis

PFFVXF
Mean Return0.521.24
R-squared9.3985.73
Std. Deviation7.8718.04
Alpha3.45-3.26
Beta0.811.23
Sharpe Ratio0.720.79
Treynor Ratio6.7910.92

The iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF (PFF) has a R-squared of 9.39 with a Treynor Ratio of 6.79 and a Sharpe Ratio of 0.72. Its Mean Return is 0.52 while PFF’s Standard Deviation is 7.87. Furthermore, the fund has a Beta of 0.81 and a Alpha of 3.45.

The Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund ETF Shares (VXF) has a Sharpe Ratio of 0.79 with a Mean Return of 1.24 and a R-squared of 85.73. Its Treynor Ratio is 10.92 while VXF’s Beta is 1.23. Furthermore, the fund has a Standard Deviation of 18.04 and a Alpha of -3.26.

PFF’s Mean Return is 0.72 points lower than that of VXF and its R-squared is 76.34 points lower. With a Standard Deviation of 7.87, PFF is slightly less volatile than VXF. The Alpha and Beta of PFF are 6.71 points higher and 0.42 points lower than VXF’s Alpha and Beta.

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Performance

Annual Returns

PFF vs. VXF - Annual Returns

YearPFFVXF
20207.94%32.19%
201915.62%28.04%
2018-4.77%-9.37%
20178.33%18.1%
20161.26%16.16%
20154.62%-3.26%
201413.45%7.55%
2013-0.59%38.37%
201218.25%18.48%
2011-2.2%-3.61%
201013.96%27.55%

PFF had its best year in 2012 with an annual return of 18.25%. PFF’s worst year over the past decade yielded -4.77% and occurred in 2018. In most years the iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF provided moderate returns such as in 2015, 2020, and 2017 where annual returns amounted to 4.62%, 7.94%, and 8.33% respectively.

The year 2013 was the strongest year for VXF, returning 38.37% on an annual basis. The poorest year for VXF in the last ten years was 2018, with a yield of -9.37%. Most years the Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund ETF Shares has given investors modest returns, such as in 2016, 2017, and 2012, when gains were 16.16%, 18.1%, and 18.48% respectively.

Portfolio Growth

PFF vs. VXF - Portfolio Growth

FundInitial BalanceFinal BalanceCAGR
PFF$10,000$20,2726.90%
VXF$10,000$44,13015.47%

A $10,000 investment in PFF would have resulted in a final balance of $20,272. This is a profit of $10,272 over 11 years and amounts to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.90%.

With a $10,000 investment in VXF, the end total would have been $44,130. This equates to a $34,130 profit over 11 years and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.47%.

PFF’s CAGR is 8.58 percentage points lower than that of VXF and as a result, would have yielded $23,858 less on a $10,000 investment. Thus, PFF performed worse than VXF by 8.58% annually.


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