Still a Case for the Emerging Markets Consumer

ETF Trends

Investing in the emerging markets consumer theme has previously been a tricky bet. What appears to be a fundamentally sound story has not been a guarantee of positive returns in recent years.

However, the fundamental story remains in place and exchange traded funds offering exposure to the emerging markets have been performing well as of late. Buoying the case for these ETFs going forward is the sense of optimism felt by consumers in some of the largest emerging markets.

In India, 77% of consumers feel positive about the future and in Brazil the number is 73%, reports Shulli Rhen for Barron’s.  The developed world is apparently home to a more jaded consumer with only 48% feeling optimistic about the future.

The EGShares Emerging Markets Consumer ETF (ECON) , the king of emerging markets consumer ETFs, has been an anomaly among major diversified emerging markets ETFs this year, hauling in assets while rivals have seen investors pull billions. [Emerging Markets Consumer ETF Poised for a Rally]

While ECON has traded slightly lower on the year, it has surged 10.2% in the past 90 days, suggesting investors are buying into the developing world consumer story again. The BRIC nations combine for 44.3% of ECON’s weight with China commanding 17%, but the ETF’s almost 19% weight to South Africa is also noteworthy.

African consumers are feeling quite ebullient and the sentiment is not limited to South Africa, the continent’s largest economy. In Africa, 79% of consumers say there are more things they want to buy every year and doing so makes 84% of them happy, Barron’s reported.

Of course, much of the talk regarding the emerging markets consumer has revolved around China, the world’s second-largest economy. The Global X China Consumer ETF (CHIQ) , assailed by some when it debuted four years ago as too much of a niche play, now has $184.3 million in assets under management and is up 16% in the past three months.  [ETFs for China's Domestic Rebound]

The new kid on the block is the WisdomTree Emerging Markets Consumer Growth Fund (EMCG) . EMCG is just two months old, but the ETF, like ECON, is conservatively positioned at the sector level as staples and telecom names combine for over 37% of the new ETF’s weight.

China, Brazil and South Africa combine for about 47% of EMCG’s weight. The fund is up 2% since its September debut.  [WisdomTree: Consumer Growth From Broad Emerging Markets]

Of the ETFs mentioned here, CHIQ has the biggest discretionary tilt as retail, automobile and travel names combine for 54.5% of the fund’s weight.

Global X China Consumer ETF

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