The iShares MSCI Austria Capped ETF (EWO) does not garner the same level of attention as its Germany, Italy or Spain counterparts, but that relative lack of anonymity belies upside potential with the lone Austria exchange traded fund.
However, Austria’s economy has been sluggish, compared to other Eurozone states. Annual gross domestic product in Austria was at 0.1% last year, and in May, the European Commission projected that the country’s economy would only expand 0.8% this year, compared to the currency-bloc average of 1.5% and German outlook of 1.9%, reports Alexander Weber for Bloomberg.
The country is seeing unemployment rates trending upwards to 5.7% in April, which has the Austrian central bank “massively concerned.”
The central bank argued that Austria is slowly losing business with Germany as neighbors like Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic gain greater market share the Eurozone care manufacturing industry. The country’s share of German imports dipped to 4.3% last year from 4.6% in 2009, and since exports to Germany amount to a third of total sales abroad, the small dip means a lot.
“According Europa.eu, Austria’s per capita GDP, at approximately $46, 400 is well above the EU-28 average and pretty much in line with Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, and Sweden. However, its current annualized growth rate is anemic at 0.4%, a full 100 basis points below the EU average. Its debt to GDP ratio is slightly below the EU average at 84.5% of GDP and runs a surprisingly high annualized inflation rate of 1.5%, well above the EU’s 0.6% annualized rate. Its unemployment rate, at 5.6% is well below its fellow EU member nations at over 10%,” notes a Seeking Alpha post.
The Eurozone is currently enjoying a boost to growth from lower oil prices and the European Central Bank’s recently announced quantitative easing program. However, the boost will only help Austria’s economy to a lesser extent. [Austria ETF Finds its Way]
Austria has placed itself as a focal point in the banking industry for emerging Central and Eastern European economies. However, the financial crisis left the Austrian banking system vulnerable to the massive movements of foreign credit and foreign currency-denominated loans.
“In all fairness, the fund is merely tracking the MSCI index, which it does rather well. As an individual EU member state economy Austria does well domestically: employment, social services, income and wealth distribution. Also, as a contributing EU and Eurozone member state, it does play a positive, albeit small part. Unfortunately, though, as a single country focused investment it does not have the strength, at least not yet, to generate significant dividend growth or capital appreciation, mainly because of its weak financial sector,” according to the Seeking Alpha article.
iShares MSCI Austria Capped ETF
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.