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An ETF Strategy That Emphasizes Income and Price


With U.S. equities still hovering near record highs, a tactical approach to unearthing new opportunities, both domestic and global, should prove useful.

Investors would also do well to remember that the indicator that matters most, regardless of asset class is price. That thinking servers as the backstop for Riverfront Investment Group’s Price Matters strategy, which is one of several strategies managed by the Virginia-based exchange traded funds strategist.

Riverfront’s Moderate Growth & Income portfolio, which uses the Price Matters methodology, holds over two dozen ETFs, with a combination of core, diversified holdings as well as narrowly focused ETFs where Riverfront sees short-term opportunities,” according to S&P Capital IQ and is measured against a 50% equity/50% fixed income benchmark.

Riverfront’s Moderate Growth & Income portfolio consists of several well-known, highly liquid and low-cost ETFs, such as the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA) and the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (VGK) . EFA is the third-largest U.S.-listed ETF while VGK is the largest Europe ETF. The two are favorites of ETF strategists. [Tactical Allocation With ETFs]

The moderate growth portfolio includes some more tactical ETFs, such as the currency-hedged db X-trackers MSCI EAFE Hedged Equity Fund (DBEF) . DBEF allocates 19.5% of its weight to Japan and 19.3% to the U.K., indicating the positive impact of a weaker yen can be offset by the British pound, which has been one of the strongest developed market currencies this year. [Currency Hedging Helping This ETF]

However, Eurozone nations combine for about 24% of DBEF’s weight with Sweden, recently an interest rate cutter, chipping in another 3.1%. That gives DBEF ample exposure to countries with dovish monetary policies. DBEF is rated marketweight by S&P Capital IQ.

RiverFront’s Chief Investment Officer Michael Jones considers developed international markets, specifically Europe, to be particularly undervalued, according to S&P Capital IQ.

The moderate growth portfolio also holds a stake in the iShares MSCI Australia ETF (EWA) . EWA, the largest Australia, is not a currency hedged product, so the fund has not been hampered by the strong Australian dollar, despite Australia’s status as a major commodities exporter.

In fact, EWA has surged almost 11.5% this year and Australian stocks are flirting with multi-year highs as investors search equity yield in the comfort of steady ex-U.S. developed markets. EWA fits the bill. Although the Reserve Bank has one of the most prolific rate reducers over the past several years, Australia’s benchmark interest rate of 2.5% is high by developed market standards and helps give EWA a trailing 12-month yield of 3.8%. [More Upside for Australia ETFs]