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Oh Canada: Energy Rally Lifts Country’s ETFs


Canada’s status as one of the world’s largest oil producers outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is fueling a resurgence in exchange traded funds tracking the countries equities.

The iShares MSCI Canada ETF (EWC) , the largest U.S.-listed Canada ETF, is up 9.4% over the past 90 days, a gain that is 380 basis points superior to that of the S&P 500. The S&P/TSX Composite, Canada’s benchmark index, is the second-best performer among the world’s largest markets this year, trailing only India’s S&P BSE Sensex, reports Eric Lam for Bloomberg.

Much of this year’s rebound in Canadian stocks has been tied to the strength of oil companies and gold miners. The $3.4 billion EWC allocates 26.6% of its weight to the energy sector and 11.4% to materials names. However, gold miners are not a significant chunk of the ETF’s weight.

Pure mining ETFs are the funds that have really benefited from the recent rally in Canadian mining names. For example, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) is up nearly 15% this month with an allocation of 63.5% to Canadian miners. [Miners ETFs Ready to Rally]

At 36.7%, financial services is by far the largest sector weight in EWC, but that has not been a bad thing for the ETF. Three of Canada’s largest banks, including names found in EWC’s top-10 lineup, recently raised dividends.

“Canada’s six biggest banks boast 12-month dividend yields of 3.5 percent to 4.2 percent, higher than any U.S. bank with a market value of at least $10 billion and more than many European lenders of similar size,” according to Bloomberg.

No major Canadian banks reduced dividends during the global financial crisis. As just one example, Royal Bank of Canada (RY) today yields 3.8% with a payout ratio of 47%. Wells Fargo (WFC) yields just 2.7% with a payout ratio of just 30%. [Bieber Bounce for Canada ETFs]

Investors looking for deeper exposure to Canadian energy and mining names can consider the IndexIQ Canada Small Cap ETF (CNDA) , which allocates nearly 62% of its weight to those sectors. Like EWC, CNDA hit a new 52-week high today, confirming the ETF’s status as an ideal way for risk-tolerant investors to participate in resurgent Canadian resources names.

Although U.S. small-caps have struggled at various points this year, global small-caps have been strong and CNDA highlights that theme. The Canada small-cap offering is up more than 20% this year compared to a 3% gain for the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) . [Global Small-Cap ETFs Trounce U.S. Rivals]

The First Trust Canada AlphaDEX Fund (FCAN) is something of an unheralded Canada ETF option, but the ETF does offer ample exposure to strong Canadian sectors. Financials, energy and materials combine for 55.6% of FCAN’s weight.

FCAN is another quiet success story from First Trust’s AlphaDEX suite. It is not a stretch to say few advisors and investors realize FCAN is a $145.5 million ETF and probably fewer know that almost $60 million of those assets have come into the fund just this year.

iShares MSCI Canada ETF


Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of IWM.