SPLG vs SPY – Comparing Expense Ratios & Performance

Updated June 24, 2024

When it comes to sifting through the landscape of the stock market investment, Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) stand out as a go-to for diversification and performance.

Particularly, the SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 ETF (SPLG) and the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) are two giants parallel in their pursuit of reflecting the S&P 500 Index, yet distinct in their propositions to the smart investor. This ETF comparison will break down the SPLG ETF benefits and delve into SPY ETF performance, offering you a clear picture of each fund's unique attributes.

Whether you're a seasoned investor or new to the sea of the stock market, understanding the nuances of each ETF can prove to be lucrative. Discovering how each performs, their cost-effectiveness and dividend schemes provides you with actionable insights into crafting your investment strategy with precision.

Key Takeaways

  • State Street ETFs SPLG and SPY offer distinct choices for S&P 500 index replication.
  • SPLG, with its lower expense ratio, presents a cost-efficient option for long-term investors.
  • The SPY ETF's larger size and longer track record appeal to certain investment strategies.
  • Dividend yield comparison between SPLG and SPY showcases slight variations due to cost differences.

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Understanding SPLG and SPY ETFs

When it comes to building a robust investment portfolio, understanding the nuances of different investment vehicles is crucial.

Two such vehicles, SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 ETF (SPLG) and SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY), offer investors access to the large-cap U.S. equity market through S&P 500 replication. The SPLG characteristics include a more traditional ETF structure, whilst SPY features the unique structure of a Unit Investment Trust (UIT), setting them apart in the realm of ETF structures.

Both SPLG and SPY are synonymous with equity diversification and are popular choices for index tracking. They are diligent in mirroring the composition of the S&P 500, thus serving as prime examples of cost-efficient investing. However, their different setups may influence an investor’s choice, with SPY’s UIT structure contrasting with the typical open-ended structure of SPLG.

A deeper dive into their specifics reveals:

  • Shares Outstanding: SPLG boasts impressive numbers with 541 million shares outstanding, whereas SPY scales higher with 1.03 billion shares.
  • Liquidity Metrics: Both ETFs have a strong presence in the market, evidenced by their substantial average daily volume (ADV). Investors typically find SPY's higher ADV more reassuring, particularly for large-volume trades, which could be a determinant in investment decisions.
  • Index Tracking: Precision in index tracking is a shared objective for SPLG and SPY, enabling investors to replicate the performance of the S&P 500 efficiently.

Choosing between SPLG and SPY may come down to factors such as the preferred ETF structure, the importance of liquidity, and investment objectives related to cost-efficiency. Both stand as sterling examples of S&P 500 replication, yet their distinct characteristics cater to diverse investor preferences within the landscape of investment vehicles.

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Investment Strategies: SPLG and SPY Compared

When diving into the ETF asset allocation and management strategies of SPLG and SPY, insightful differences and similarities come to light. The equity exposure provided by both funds is instrumental for portfolio management, particularly for investors seeking robust investment in the American market.

Considering their SPLG strategy and SPY investment tactics, we can discern the subtle nuances that influence their performance impact and returns.

Allocation Differences Between SPLG and SPY

Both SPLG and SPY aim to mirror the S&P 500 index, yet there exist slight variations that can affect the SPLG vs SPY returns. In terms of ETF asset allocation:

  • SPLG holdings focus more on a diverse range of large-cap stocks, which may offer stability.
  • SPY sector breakdown includes a precise replication of the S&P 500, leading to a broad market representation.

Analysis of SPLG's and SPY's Investment Approach

The investment approach of both SPLG and SPY closely follows the S&P 500, which includes a strong emphasis on:

  • Top-performing sectors such as Technology Services, Finance, and Health Technology.
  • Leading companies that dominate these sectors, for instance, Microsoft and Apple influence both ETFs' performance.
  • Liquidity and fund structure impact investment accessibility and tactics used by investors to achieve their portfolio goals.

Impact of Investment Styles on Long-Term Performance

Long-term investment success is a priority for many investors and understanding the influence of investment style on performance is key.

When assessing SPLG vs SPY:

  • The impact of each fund's investment strategy is shown to have a minimal differential effect over the long-term.
  • Both yield comparable performance metrics, often with identical annual dividend yields and turnover rates.
  • Historical performance data confirms that SPLG and SPY returns are closely aligned across various timelines.

Performance Metrics: SPLG vs SPY

When it comes to performance comparison between SPLG and SPY, investors often closely scrutinize the figures to inform their investment decisions. By focusing on SPLG returns and SPY metrics, a comprehensive understanding of how these ETFs align with or diverge from their benchmark becomes clear.

It's essential for investors to note that while both aim to mirror the S&P 500, slight discrepancies in returns may occur due to various factors, including the ETFs’ expenses and tracking efficiency.

  • Both SPLG and SPY have a beta coefficient of 1.0, highlighting that their price movements tend to closely follow the S&P 500.
  • In the long-term, SPY exhibits a slight edge in performance with a 3-year return of 11.91%, compared to SPLG's 11.97%.
  • The small difference in performance is testimony to their effective benchmark tracking, though it underscores the importance of reviewing even marginal gains, as these could compound over time.

Understanding the nuanced details of both ETFs' performance is crucial for investors who prioritize metrics and historical returns in their portfolio construction. By continuously monitoring these metrics, investors remain well-informed about the ongoing effectiveness of their investment choices in tracking the S&P 500 benchmark.

Expense Ratios and Fees: A Key Factor in SPLG vs SPY

When diving into the world of ETF investments, the seemingly small differences in expense ratios and fees between funds like SPLG and SPY can have significant implications for long-term savings and investment costs.

Discerning investors know that even marginal variations can tip the scales of long-term investment returns in one's favor, making it essential to analyze and understand how these fees apply to their investment strategy.

How SPLG's Lower Expense Ratio Benefits Investors

The low expense ratio of the SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 ETF (SPLG) stands as one of its most compelling features, providing a cost advantage that could bolster long-term savings.

At just 0.02%, SPLG's expense ratio starkly contrasts with that of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY), which sits at 0.09%.

This difference may seem nominal at a glance, but over an extended period, the impact on an investor’s portfolio could prove to be substantial.

Comparing SPLG and SPY Management Fees

For cost-conscious investors focusing on expense ratio comparison, examining SPLG and SPY side-by-side exemplifies the SPLG cost advantage.

Management fees quietly nibble at investment returns, and while both SPLG and SPY offer a straightforward means to track the S&P 500, assessments of their fee structures reveal SPLG as the more cost-effective investing option.

SPLG's lean approach to fees demonstrates State Street's commitment to providing accessible investment vehicles.

Long-Term Impact of Fees on Investment Returns

  • The fee impact on long-term investment returns can not be overstated. Even as SPLG and SPY share similar performance trajectories and dividend yields, the lower fees associated with SPLG could compound dramatically over the years, leading to a more favorable financial outcome.
  • Investors who prioritize minimizing investment costs will find the expense ratio comparison particularly salient, as the saved percentages translate into retained earnings and enhanced compounding potential.
  • Asserting its position as a formidable competitor to SPY, SPLG's financial efficiency makes a robust case for its inclusion in a cost-effective, long-term investment strategy.

SPLG and SPY: Analyzing Dividends and Yields

For income-focused investors, the assessment of dividends and yields remains a cornerstone of dividend analysis. Within the realm of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), SPLG and SPY stand out for their reliable payouts. 

An astute yield comparison reveals that both funds present attractive investment opportunities, especially appreciated in uncertain market conditions.

  • SPLG dividends offer a window into the fund's income-generating ability, disbursing an average of $0.20 per share. Given its price and assets, this dividend payment underscores SPLG's potential as a consistent income source for investors.
  • In parallel, SPY yields portray a slightly varied picture. With a historic distribution of $1.60 per share, SPY's higher coinage in dividends is attributed to its greater assets under management (AUM) and its more expensive share price.

Presenting nearly equitable dividend yields, both SPLG and SPY facilitate a strategy where income generation can complement capital appreciation objectives, as they cater to investors' thirst for stability through regularly scheduled payments.


In the landscape of stock market investments, the debate revolving around SPLG vs SPY remains a focal point for many seeking robust exposure to the S&P 500 Index. These ETFs, both products of State Street, share the common goal of mirroring the performance of a leading market indicator, yet they diverge on multiple fronts. 

The standout difference in cost-efficiency is undeniably represented in the lower expense ratio of SPLG when contrasted with SPY. Such variance in expense ratios serves as a vital component in the long-term investment decision process, potentially tipping the scales for fee-sensitive investors.

While SPY has a more extended track record, SPLG offers a competitive edge through cost savings without compromising on performance or dividend distribution—a distinct ETF advantage. Ultimately, the investment vehicles selected should resonate with an individual's financial aspirations and risk appetite.

Jerry Garnes

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About the Author

Jerry Garnes is a seasoned writer in personal finance. His informative and insightful pieces have been featured by esteemed platforms like Bankrate, The Street, and Business Insider. In addition to his financial expertise, Jerry is a passionate poet and musician with a deep love for nature.

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