Canada ETFs: 9 Ways To Play

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When it comes to diversifying your portfolio, many investors often overlook the dynamic economy of our Northern neighbor. Canada is home to one of the most commodity-intensive developed economies in the world, and its large natural gas and oil reserves make it one of the few net exporters of energy outside of South America or the Middle East. The country is also one of the leading producers of zinc, uranium and grains, along with a number of other commodities. But Canada is much more than just a resource-rich nation; the country is home to some of the most stable financial institutions in the developed world [see also How To But The Right ETF Every Time].

For investors looking to either make a bet on the Canadian economy or round out the international equity component of their portfolios, we outline nine ETF options to make a play on our neighbor to the North:

1. MSCI Canada Index Fund (EWC)

This ETF is perhaps the most popular option for establishing equity exposure to Canada, with nearly $4.2 billion in total assets and an average trading volume of over 1.5 million shares a day. EWC’s portfolio of just over 100 individual securities is primarily made up of the largest Canadian-listed stocks, including three financial behemoths: Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank and Bank of Nova Scotia, which combined account for over 17% of total assets.

The fund is dominated by financial services stocks, followed by hefty allocations to energy and basic materials sectors. The well known Suncor Energy firm and mining powerhouse Barrick Gold Corporation also make an appearance in EWC’s top ten holdings.

2. Canada Energy Income ETF (ENY)

Guggenheim’s ENY puts a new twist on the Canadian equity market, approaching the space with a focus on energy stocks. The fund tracks an index that is comprised of approximately 30 individual securities listed either on the Toronto Stock Exchange, NYSE AMEX, NASDAQ or NYSE. Using an asset allocation model based on the trend in crude oil prices, ENY shifts its holdings between two particular sectors: the Canadian royalty trust market and oil sands producers. So for those looking to gain exposure to this particular segment of Canada’s energy market through a single equity ticker, ENY makes for a compelling choice [see also Oil Sands In Focus: Q&A With Derek Gates].

3. IQ Canada Small Cap ETF (CNDA)

For those looking to make a “pure play” on the Canadian economy, CNDA provides a way for investors to gain exposure to the small capitalization sector of the Canadian equity market. The fund has a bias towards basic materials and energy stocks, which make up over 70% of total assets, but also features allocations to the financial services and industrials sector. Although the fund is designed to reflect the small-cap portion of the Canadian equity market, it is important to note that over one-third of CNDA’s portfolio is made up of mid-cap stocks [see also Easy-As-ABC ETFdb Portfolio].

For those cost-conscious investors, iShares’ MSCI Canada Small Cap Index Fund (EWCS) may be a more appealing option, since its expense ratio is 10 basis points lower than CNDA’s. Additionally, EWCS features a slightly lower concentration in mid-cap equities.

4. Canada AlphaDEX Fund (FCAN)

One of the newest additions to First Trust’s popular AlphaDEX lineup, FCAN offers investors a different way to make a play on the Canadian equity market. The methodology behind FCAN involves a quantitative screening methodology designed to identify stocks from a specific universe that have the greatest potential for capital appreciation. But of course with the proprietary AlphaDEX methodology comes a higher price tag; FCAN is currently the most costly Canada-focused ETF, with its expense ratio of 0.80%.

5. Global X S&P/TSX Venture 30 Canada ETF (TSXV)

Another fund that puts a twist on the equity sector, TSXV offers exposure to about 30 companies traded on the TSX Venture Exchange, a Canadian stock exchange that generally includes smaller and more speculative companies. The fund primarily invests in firms engaged in the exploration and discovery of natural resources. It should be noted that this fund is more appropriate for investors looking to establish exposure to more speculative natural resource firms, making TSXV a potentially attractive option for betting on raw materials but also a potentially volatile holding [see also 25 Ways To Invest In Natural Gas].

6. MSCI Canada Currency-Hedged Equity Fund (DBCN)

This fund tracks an index that is designed to provide exposure to Canadian equity markets, while at the same time mitigating exposure to fluctuations between the value of the U.S. dollar and Canadian dollar. To achieve its objective, DBCN uses short-term forward contracts to strip out fluctuations related to relative value of currencies, essentially isolating the performance of Canadian stocks as the primary driver of performance. For those bullish on the U.S. dollar, DBCN will be a great option since the fund should outperform EWC when the U.S. currency strengthens.

7. Canadian Dollar Trust (FXC)

For investors looking simply to bet on the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. currency, FXC offers a way to achieve exposure to this exchange rate. This grantor trust is currently the only option available on the market to offer CAD/USD exposure, and luckily it comes at a relatively low price tag with an expense ratio of just 40 basis points.

8. Canada Preferred ETF (CNPF)

This ETF allows investors to gain exposure to preferred stocks from Canadian issues that trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Preferred shares are selected based on a specific criteria relating to size, liquidity, issuer rating, maturity and other requirements. CNPF is an attractive option for those those seeking to boost yields in a portfolio or for those looking for less risky forms of equity exposure.

9. Canada Bond Index Fund (CAD)

PIMCO’s CAD is currently the only exchange-traded product that provides investors with a way to access the Canadian debt market. The fund is linked to the BofA Merrill Lynch Diversified Canada Government Bond Index, a benchmark that includes investment grade bonds denominated in Canadian dollars and issued by Canadian governments. CAD’s portfolio includes both sovereign and quasi-sovereign debt.

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

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