How To Track A Fidelity ETF

Calculating returns for Fidelity ETFs is much more difficult than tracking performance for Fidelity mutual funds, which is why we limit our monthly Scorecard coverage to their 11 MSCI sector ETFs.

The methods we use to report on the MSCI sectors are similar to how we track Fidelity’s annuity portfolios, where the challenge is not so much a lack of automated data, but a lack of timely data. Some of these techniques were developed back in 1986 when the only automated data was telephone price quotes using Fidelity’s FAST system:

(1) Own shares in every fund you are tracking so you have access to non-public data such as timely pricing updates and reinvestment prices for quarterly distributions.

(2) Maintain a database of monthly gains and losses starting from inception. Update it when Fidelity’s unannounced price revisions cause the calculated numbers to deviate from those realized by the shares you own.

(3) Manually copy previous month performance figures from Fidelity’s retail web site and enter them into a spreadsheet. For periods where Fidelity does not provide any data, such as trailing three-month and year-to-date, either copy the numbers from a third-party web site or calculate them from the shares you own in your own account.

(4) At the end of a reporting month, calculate current monthly return based on closing prices, and every third month uplift the figures by the gain factor for the distribution (this only works when the payouts are more than three days before the end of the month, allowing the reinvestment price to be known before month-end, as is the case with the MSCI sectors).

(5) Uplift the prior month performance figures by the current month, then "down-lift" the resulting figures by the drop month that is no longer part of the performance period (except in the case of year-to-date figures). Publish the resulting monthly numbers and hope that any unannounced price revisions are small enough to be rounding errors.

-- Jack Bowers