Best Growth ETFs for 2017 and Beyond

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Growth stocks are generally defined as the stocks of companies growing at faster-than-average rates, and they can be exciting and lucrative investments. Growth stocks have the potential for high returns, but also tend to be relatively volatile. Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, like these four can help you take advantage of growth investing without the risks involved with choosing individual stocks.

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Fund Name

Symbol

Expense Ratio

Dividend Yield

5-Year Average Total Return

Schwab U.S. Large-Cap Growth ETF

SCHG

0.04%

1.21%

16.2%

Vanguard Mid-Cap Growth Index Fund ETF

VOT

0.07%

0.78%

14%

Vanguard Small-Cap Growth Index Fund ETF

VBK

0.07%

1.01%

13.5%

iShares MSCI EAFE Growth ETF

EFG

0.40%

3.06%

10.1%

Schwab U.S. Large-Cap Growth ETF

The Schwab U.S. Large-Cap Growth ETF (NYSEMKT: SCHG) has the lowest expense ratio of any major growth ETF as of this writing, with fees totaling just $4 for every $10,000 you have invested. The fund tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Large-Cap Growth Total Stock Market Index, which, as the name implies, is composed of larger growth stocks. To give you an idea of what this means, top holdings include Apple, Amazon.com, Facebook, and Berkshire Hathaway.

Vanguard Mid-Cap Growth Index Fund ETF

Generally speaking, the larger a growth stock is, the less volatile you can expect it to be. Conversely, smaller growth stocks tend to have higher return potential. So, a mid-cap growth ETF like the Vanguard Mid-Cap Growth Index Fund ETF (NYSEMKT: VOT) can be a good compromise. Mid-cap stocks are typically considered to be those with market capitalizations between $2 billion and $10 billion, and examples of some of the well-known growth stocks among this ETF's top holdings are Electronic Arts, Fiserv, and Autodesk.

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Vanguard Small-Cap Growth Index Fund ETF

As I mentioned, smaller stocks tend to have more volatility. However, large-cap ETFs like the Schwab fund I discussed tend to be more top-heavy, since some large-cap stocks are very large. In fact, Apple makes up 7.3% of the large-cap fund's assets. Meanwhile, no stock owned by the Vanguard Small-Cap Growth Index Fund ETF (NYSEMKT: VBK) makes up more than 0.7% of the fund's total assets, and this diversification helps mitigate the inherent volatility that comes with smaller companies. Although no stocks are what I would call "big" holdings, top stocks owned by the fund include Domino's Pizza, Vail Resorts, and Align Technology.

iShares MSCI EAFE Growth ETF

There are several good reasons to add foreign stocks to your portfolio. Just to name a couple of examples, foreign stocks can be a hedge against currency fluctuations, and emerging markets can have some exciting growth opportunities. The iShares MSCI EAFE Growth ETF (NYSEMKT: EFG) can help you get exposure to foreign growth stocks. While the fund does invest in companies all over the world, the majority are large-cap stocks in developed countries. Just to name a few examples, the fund's top holdings include several companies that are familiar to most Americans, such as Nestle, Bayer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Diageo.

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Matthew Frankel owns shares of Apple and Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Align Technology, Amazon, Apple, Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), Facebook, and Nestle. The Motley Fool recommends Diageo, Electronic Arts, and Vail Resorts. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.