The Allure of the Taiwan ETF

ETF Trends

Taiwan is not a giant on par with Asian rivals, such as China and South Korea, but the country’s equity market and the relevant exchange traded funds offer opportunity for the conservative global investor.

“Insofar as Taiwan is still quite vulnerable to a military takeover by mainland China and its GDP rates thirty-fourth in magnitude internationally, the fact that Taiwanese stocks are outperforming those of China and South Korea thus far this year represents an enormous feat in the face of student-led demonstrations opposing Taipei’s struggle to negotiate a bilateral trade pact with Beijing. Even so, favorable economic trends will proceed to buttress domestic equities against any further political flare-ups,” said S&P Capital IQ.

Investors can access Taiwanese stocks through several popular, diversified emerging markets ETFs, including the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) . VWO, the largest emerging markets ETF by assets, featured a 14.1% weight to Taiwan at the end of the second quarter making it the ETF’s second-largest country weight behind China. S&P Capital IQ rates VWO overweight.

Among emerging markets, Taiwan has one of the more favorable dividend policies and one that is vastly superior to that of South Korea. As such, Taiwanese stocks pop up in several emerging markets dividend ETFs, including the largest: The WisdomTree Emerging Markets Equity Income Fund (DEM) . Taiwan is DEM’s third-largest country weight at 13.6%. [The Importance of Emerging Markets Dividends]

With Taiwan expected to post solid GDP numbers, investors can also consider single-country ETFs.

“ A firm recovery in business activity is anticipated this year and next as the rate of growth in real GDP accelerates 1.4 percentage points to 3.4 percent in 2014 and strengthens further to 3.6 percent in 2015 and 2016 despite the fact that inflation-adjusted economic activity is not expected to achieve the six-to-seven percent pace it attained on average prior to the onset of the Great Recession. Nevertheless, the 2014 to 2016 economic growth forecasts will outpace the country’s 1.5 percent compound quarterly rate of advance over the past thirty-three years,” said S&P Capital IQ.

The iShares MSCI Taiwan ETF (EWT) is up 11%, more than double the 5.4% returned by the iShares MSCI South Korea Capped ETF (EWY) .

EWT, home to $3.1 billion in assets under management, has been a favored single-country ETF for conservative investors because of its low volatility and reduced dependence on the energy and financial services sectors, which dominate many rival ETFs.

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