Reconsidering the Vietnam ETF

ETF Trends

The Market Vectors Vietnam ETF (VNM) is off 3.6% this quarter, obeying its tendency to tumble during the second quarter. In this its fifth second quarter of existence, VNM has never posted a gain during the April through June time frame.

There are usually valid reasons to explain VNM’s second-quarter woes and 2014 is no different. Vietnamese equities have been struggling amid on an ongoing territorial dispute with China. Vietnam and China are at odds regarding China’s move to tow an oil rig into the South China Sea earlier this month, a move that has sparked protests in Hanoi and sharp rhetoric from Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. [Vietnam ETF's Slide Could Continue]

Last week, stocks in Hanoi tumbled after Vietnam’s central bank devalued the dong in an effort help the country’s exporters.

Those are negative headlines to be sure, but some investors are using this opportunity to nibble at Vietnamese shares. “On June 20, a net 16.6 million shares were bought by foreigners. On average, a net 2.3 million shares were bought by foreigners in the previous 9 trading days. About 40% of the market activities were made by foreigners that day,” reports Shuli Ren for Barron’s.

There is still optimism that Vietnam will increase foreign ownership limits in financial services companies, a sector that represents nearly a third of VNM’s weight.

“The Vietnam stock market was briefly buoyed with hope that foreign ownership limit will be lifted for brokerages but then dipped into bear territory during the course of last week,” Barron’s reported, citing a J.P. Morgan note.

Plans by Vietnamese policymakers and the central bank to lift foreign ownership limits are widely known and date back to early 2013. [Another Rally for the Vietnam ETF]

Vietnam is classified as a frontier market and is the tenth-largest country weight in the iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (FM) . VNM trades at a P/E of 13.48 and a price-to-book ratio of 1.58, according to Market Vectors data. Those are discounts to FM’s P/E of 20.56 and the frontier fund’s price-to-book of 3.29.

Market Vectors Vietnam ETF

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ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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