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Brazil ETFs Survive Citi’s Tepid View of Consumer Stocks


Already embattled Brazil exchange traded funds are holding up well Monday after Citigroup unveiled a less-than-enthusiastic view on eight Brazilian consumer stocks.

The U.S. bank initiated coverage on eight Brazilian retail names with seven hold ratings and one sell, citing pricey valuations given the raft of macroeconomic headwinds faced by Latin America’s largest economy. High inflation and a faltering real have helped force the iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (EWZ) , the largest Brazil ETF, into an ominous club: The 10 worst major country ETFs in 2013. [10 Worst Global Markets by ETFs]

EWZ, which also ranks as one of the 10 worst ETFs in terms of 2013 outflows, allocates a combined 19% of its weight to consumer staples and discretionary names.

“Slower demand presents top-line risks for Brazilian retailers exposed to the mid- and lower-income segments. Moreover, inflation could push operating expenses up while rising interest rates pressure financial costs for leveraged companies,” said Citigroup in a note regarding Brazilian retailers.

EWZ is higher by nearly 2% Monday. Despite the news from Citi, the Global X Brazil Consumer ETF (BRAQ) is also trading to the upside on Monday.  BRAQ has gained 12.4% in the past three months.

The real surprise may just be the Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF (BRF) . BRF, which has $228 million in assets under management, allocates 38.1% of its weight to discretionary names, more than twice the weight given to industrials, the ETF’s second-largest sector weight.

Bolstering the case for Citi’s tepid view of Brazilian consumer stocks is inflation of 5.84%, well above the government’s target range, and that is despite a 2.25 percentage point increases to the benchmark Selic rate and economic growth is expected to be just 2.5% this year, a third of what Brazil posted in 2010. [World Cup Prep Hasn't Bolstered Brazil ETFs]

Additionally, Brazilian stocks are not significantly discounted relative to the broader emerging markets universe and actually somewhat pricey compared to their own history. As of mid-October, Brazilian stocks had a forward P/E ratio of 10.6 compared with a 10-year average of nine.

Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF