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A Bullish View on Some of Asia’s Best ETFs


Although some emerging markets exchange traded funds have rallied this month, the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) is still dealing with a 2.2% year-to-date loss.

The major ETFs tracking Brazil, China, Russia and normally conservative South Korea are sporting year-to-date losses, but that does not mean all single-country emerging markets ETFs have been a wash this year. In fact, three of the best performers could rally some more in the near-term thanks to some encouraging headlines. [Dash to Trash Lifts Some Asia ETFs]

During Wednesday’s Asian session, J.P. Morgan upgraded its view on Indonesian and Philippine equities to overweight. The bank cited “lower valuations in the Philippines and an improving current-account deficit in Indonesia,” reports Ian Sayson for Bloomberg.

The iShares MSCI Indonesia ETF (EIDO) and the Market Vectors Indonesia ETF (IDX) , the two largest ETFs tracking Southeast Asia’s largest economy, are up an average of nearly 12% this year. In the past month, the pair is up more than 6% on average as Indonesia has ameliorated a once worrisome current account deficit. Indonesia posted trade surpluses in each of the last three months of 2013. [Help for Indonesia ETFs]

The country “is proving adaptive and resilient faced with tapering,” said Adrian Mowat, the chief Asia and emerging-market strategist at J.P. Morgan, Bloomberg reported.

Valuation is the story in the Philippines. While emerging markets have crowed for over year that equity valuations in developing economies from China to Russia and others are low, the Philippines has been seen as pricey. Philippine equities trade at “16.9 times estimated earnings for the next 12 months,” according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That is still expensive to the region, but well below a P/E of almost 21 seen in the second quarter of last year just as the iShares MSCI Philippines ETF (EPHE) was starting to swoon. [Must Watch Emerging Markets ETFs in 2014]

The Philippines still sports favorable demographics, a consumer-driven economy and sturdy government balance sheet. A higher-than-regional-average valuation is arguably justifiable given the premium investors are putting on developing economies with account surpluses. The Philippines has run a surplus every year for over a decade. [Account Surplus ETF Trade Yields Mixed Results]

J.P. Morgan is bullish on real estate and consumer-related shares in the Philippines. Financial services, consumer discretionary and staples combine for over 51% of EPHE’s weight. In Indonesia, the bank likes discretionary and industrial stocks, Bloomberg reported. Those sectors combine for 19.2% of IDX’s weight.

iShares MSCI Philippines ETF

Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of EEM.