XLK vs VGT – Expense Ratios, Performance & Holdings

Updated June 24, 2024

As you stand at the crossroads of investing, the dynamic world of technology beckons with opportunities for portfolio diversification. In this tech ETF comparison, we'll delve into two giants in the arena: the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) and the Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT).

Each fund offers a unique glimpse into the tech landscape, promising avenues for robust ETF performance. State Street's XLK has been on the scene since December 16, 1998, faithfully emulating the Technology Select Sector Index, while Vanguard's VGT entered the market on January 26, 2004, mirroring the sophisticated MSCI US Investable Market Information Technology 25/50 Index.

For investors looking for passive investment strategies with the agility of intra-day trading on stock exchanges, XLK and VGT stand ready to answer the call.

Key Takeaways

  • XLK and VGT are leading tech ETFs that aim to offer investors exposure to the technology sector.
  • Both ETFs embrace a passive management strategy to replicate the performance of their respective indices.
  • XLK tracks the Technology Select Sector Index, while VGT follows the MSCI US Investable Market Information Technology 25/50 Index.
  • Investors can trade these tech ETFs throughout the trading day, adding flexibility to investment strategies.

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An Introduction to Technology ETFs: XLK and VGT

Within the dynamic landscape of investment strategies, technology ETFs offer a unique avenue for investors to participate in the tech sector's growth. The Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) and the Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT) stand as prominent examples, highlighting the efficacy of passive management in the realm of exchange-traded funds.

Navigating through the intricacies of stock exchanges, both XLK and VGT facilitate liquidity and accessibility, key attributes that resonate with investors' needs for nimble trading maneuvers.

  • XLK, hailing from the late '90s era, mirrors the performance of the Technology Select Sector Index, offering a pathway into the tech industry's big-league players.
  • VGT, entering the fray in 2004, casts its net over the MSCI US Investable Market Information Technology 25/50 Index, encapsulating a broader tapestry of tech innovators.

Embodying cornerstone components in modern investment strategies, XLK and VGT not only provide sector-specific exposure but also a stabilizing ballast of passive management within a diversified portfolio. As exchange-traded funds, they allow investors the luxury of tactical re-positioning throughout the trading day, in step with the ebb and flow of market sentiment.

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Historical Performance: A Comparative Look at XLK and VGT

When examining investment options in the technology sector, one cannot overlook the historical performance of Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) like the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) and the Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT). Considering their track records is instrumental for investors searching for consistency and potential growth within the tech market. 

Let's delve into how both funds have fared over the years, keeping in mind the ETF tracking accuracy and the indices they mirror for a robust investment returns analysis.

XLK's Alignment with The Technology Select Sector Index: 

Since its inception in 1998, XLK's objective has been to match the performance of the Technology Select Sector Index. The fund's constituents are a representation of leading companies in the technology domain, providing a glimpse into the sector's historical upscale and downturns.

VGT's Performance Against the MSCI US Investable Market Information Technology 25/50 Index:

VGT, though younger with a 2004 inception, seeks to replicate the investment results of the MSCI US Investable Market Information Technology 25/50 Index. This fund garners a snapshot of the broader information technology market, including the positive strides and occasional setbacks characteristic of this volatile sector.

Investors comparing XLK and VGT will notice variance in their historical data; pivotal when contemplating long-term growth and stability. The diverse index compositions and differing methodologies can influence their past performances, an essential variable in the decision-making process for allocating assets within the technology sector index.

  • XLK may appeal to those investors seeking a fund with an extensive performance timeline, while;
  • VGT might resonate with investors looking towards a broader tech market representation.

Examining Risk-Adjusted Performance of XLK and VGT

When it comes to ETF investments, particularly in dynamic sectors like technology, evaluating risk-adjusted performance is key to making informed decisions. Investors often seek to understand not just the potential returns but how those returns stack up when factoring in the volatility and risks associated.

This insight into the investment's efficiency is essential for gauging its true investment quality.

Understanding Risk-Adjusted Returns

Risk-adjusted performance metrics like the Sharpe ratio have become a cornerstone of financial analysis. These metrics elucidate the relationship between risk and return, facilitating a more nuanced approach to portfolio management.

The Sharpe ratio is one common metric to assess risk-adjusted performance, providing a snapshot of how reward compares to risk. By examining these measures, investors can discern whether an ETF's returns are due to wise investment choices or excessive risk-taking.

Comparing XLK and VGT's Sharpe Ratios

When we consider benchmark ETFs like the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) and the Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT), it's not just their returns but their respective index-tracking methodologies that inform their risk profiles.

To compare XLK and VGT's risk-adjusted performance, we look to their Sharpe ratios, which hinge on their historical data and the volatility inherent since their inceptions. By dissecting XLK and VGT's Sharpe ratios, investors gain a clear perspective on the risks undertaken and whether the returns sufficiently compensate for that risk.

  • The Sharpe ratio offers investors a gauge into the additional return received for the extra volatility of holding a riskier asset.
  • XLK and VGT's differing Sharpe ratios can be attributed to their distinct historical data and index-tracking methodologies.
  • Whether it's VGT's tie to the MSCI US Investable Market Information Technology 25/50 Index or XLK's link with the Technology Select Sector Index, these frameworks influence each fund's performance metrics.
  • Considering the inception dates of XLK in 1998 and VGT in 2004, we can examine how time plays a role in their risk-adjusted performance narratives.

Dividend Yields of XLK vs VGT

For investors prioritizing passive income generation from their portfolios, the attraction to ETFs providing substantial dividend yields is evident. This section delves into the comparison of Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) and the Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT), highlighting their capabilities for delivering investment income.

It's noteworthy that both XLK and VGT disburse dividends, sourced from the earnings of the companies they hold. While the yields are subject to fluctuation, reflecting variations in company earnings and dividend approaches, they play a critical role in the total returns for investors. Let's explore how these two tech ETFs stack up in terms of their dividend offerings:

  • The Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT) typically boasts a slightly higher dividend yield, with a recent annual rate of approximately 9.236%. It is a vital consideration for those who prioritize higher immediate cash flow from ETF dividends.
  • In contrast, the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) presents its investors with a modestly lower yield, around 9.199% annually. Although marginally lower, it remains a viable option for investors balancing between revenue streams and growth potential.

Aspects such as the composition of the index that each ETF tracks, and the dividend policy of the constituent companies, play crucial roles in determining the dividend yield.

Consequently, these factors also affect the amount of passive income an investor can potentially earn. Investors seeking a stable investment income alongside their capital appreciation goals may find these dividend yield comparisons between XLK and VGT to be particularly useful.

Analyzing Drawdowns and Volatility Between XLK and VGT

Understanding the dynamics between drawdowns and volatility is essential for investors who are comparing the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) and the Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT). Both ETFs expose investors to the tech sector, yet the nuances in their performances during market dips are worth scrutinizing for optimized portfolio management.

The Impact of Drawdowns on Portfolio Performance

Drawdowns, representing declines from peak to trough in an investment's value, are critical indicators of investment risk and resilience. Notably, how XLK and VGT rebound from such drawdowns can significantly influence an investor's portfolio performance. Attention to how these ETFs have behaved during market dips provides insight into their potential risk levels and resilience during turbulent market periods.

Volatility Measurements of XLK and VGT

Volatility is a statistical measure of the dispersion of returns for a security or market index, associated with the degree of investment risk. Considering both XLK and VGT aim to track technological indices, the individual stock compositions play a key role in determining the funds' volatility. Analyzing the volatility of XLK and VGT can provide a clearer view of their expected price fluctuations, assisting investors in making informed decisions regarding their potential investment risks and rewards.

  • Drawdowns and portfolio performance link: The duration and magnitude of XLK and VGT's drawdowns are pivotal in understanding potential, future recovery periods and risk tolerance.
  • Market dips as stress tests: How these ETFs perform during market dips can offer valuable data for predicting future performance and risk exposure.
  • Volatility and investment risk: The comparison of volatility across XLK and VGT is critical for investors to assess the inherent investment risks associated with each ETF.

Costs Considerations: Expense Ratios and Turnover

When choosing between the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) and the Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT), understanding the subtleties of expense ratios and turnover rates can significantly influence your investment fees and fund management decisions.

Both funds are designed to offer exposure to the technology sector but differ in the expenses they incur and the frequency of trading within their portfolios.

Comparing Expense Ratios of XLK vs VGT

Expense ratios play a pivotal role in the long-term performance of ETFs, as they eat into the potential returns an investor earns. The XLK's lower expense ratio of 0.09% suggests that it takes a smaller bite out of your investment each year compared to VGT's expense ratio of 0.10%. While this difference may seem inconsequential, it can compound over time, leaving a noticeable impact on your overall returns.

Turnover Rates: How They Affect XLK and VGT

Turnover rates are an often-overlooked facet of ETF costs that merit attention. Turnover refers to the rate at which securities are replaced within a fund's portfolio throughout the year. An elevated turnover rate can increase transaction costs and may carry tax implications as well.

VGT is characterized by a turnover rate of 15.00, a figure that is slightly more conservative compared to XLK's turnover rate of 19.00.

This suggests that VGT may engage in less frequent trading, implying a more stable portfolio with potentially reduced transaction costs and fewer tax events over the course of an investment horizon.


As we wrap up our exploration of the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) and Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT), it is evident that both offer distinct advantages for those seeking tech sector exposure in their portfolios.

XLK, with its inception dating back to 1998, boasts a substantial history and experience in tracking the technology sector, complemented by its more favorable expense ratios, which may interest investors who prioritize cost efficiency.

On the other hand, VGT's allure lies in its slightly greater dividend yield, signaling an enticing option for investors aiming to enhance their passive income streams.

Both ETFs stand as worthy contenders for those looking to capitalize on the dynamic and ever-evolving technology landscape, and careful consideration of their nuances will pave the way for an informed and strategic investment choice.

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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