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Core EM ETF Skirts Outflows


Nearly nine months into the year, most investors by now know 2013 has not been kind to emerging markets ETFs. Although funds tracking developing economies have recently started to perk up, year-to-date performances are still deep in the red and outflows are substantial.

The Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) are the two largest emerging markets ETFs. This year, they are also two of the most egregious offends in terms of lost assets. As of Wednesday, EEM and VWO had lost a combined $10.7 billion in assets this year, ranking both among the top-10 ETFs for 2013 outflows, a dubious distinction. [Don't Look Now, But Emerging Markets ETFs Are Outperforming]

Not all emerging markets ETF have suffered the outflow blows endured by EEM and VWO. Actually, some funds have been prodigious asset gatherers this year. The iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG) is a prime example. Just 11 months old, IEMG already has more than $2 billion in assets under management, $1.87 billion of which has flowed into the fund since the start of the year. [Waiting for the Turn in Emerging Markets ETFs]

IEMG is different from EEM in that the former tracks the MSCI Emerging Markets Investable Market Index while the latter follows the MSCI Emerging Markets Market Index. There are some differences. For example, about 40% of IEMG’s weight is in the BRIC nations. EEM’s weight to that group is closer to 42%. IEMG’s weight to Taiwan is 100 basis points higher than EEM’s.

IEMG debuted as part of the 10-ETF suite of “core” funds from iShares. After Vanguard and Charles Schwab aggressively cut expense ratios in the so-called exchange traded fund fee war, BlackRock’s iShares responded with the low-fee core lineup. [Investors Come Out on Top in ETF Fee War]

And it might be those low fees that have helped IEMG attract assets in what has has been a tumultous year for emerging markets ETFs. IEMG’s annual expense ratio is 0.18%, 50 basis points below EEM’s. VWO also charges 0.18%, which Vanguard says makes it cheaper than 89% of comparable funds.

Performance matters, too, and IEMG has delivered on that front. At least the core fund has been less bad than VWO and EEM. Year-to-date, IEMG was down 5.1% as of Wednesday compared to a 5.5% loss for EEM and a 6.3% loss for VWO.

iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF

ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post. Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of EEM.

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.