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One Year Since Brexit Referendum: ETFs in Focus

Zacks Equity Research

Last year, on this day, the people of Britain took to polling centers to cast their ballots for a game-changing decision on Brexit. The results proved just how divided the country was, with 51.9% voting to leave and 48.1% opting to remain. Now, the country is treading an unknown path, as it prepares to start Brexit negotiations.


The referendum led to the resignation of the then Prime Minister David Cameron, and Theresa May was appointed as the leader of the nation in July.


However, it hasn’t been a smooth journey since then. The High court blocked May’s plans to trigger Article 50 in November, urging her to get a vote from the MPs before starting the process. It was subsequently approved in February as the House of Commons voted in favor of the bill by a huge majority, 494 to 122. The Article 50 was triggered on March 29, 2017, setting Britain on a two-year process of negotiations (read: UK Gears Up to Set Brexit in Motion: ETFs in Focus).


The British pound has lost nearly 14.5% of its value against the greenback in the last one year. Business Confidence in the UK fell to 1 in the second quarter of 2017, from 15 in the previous period (read: Is the ECJ Ruling Good News for British ETFs?).


Most recently, a snap election called by Theresa May reflected surprising results. Although May expected to widen her 17-seat majority against Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party, she failed to secure majority, as the Conservatives missed the 326-seat mark required to do so by nine seats. The Labour Party secured 262 seats, reflecting a gain of 30 seats from the last election. May has been widely criticized for the fate of the Conservatives in this snap election by her own people.


In order to run a majority government, May is in talks with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). This decision has invited widespread criticism, owing to the populist ideologies of the DUP.


Most recently, Theresa May has proposed a plan to let EU citizens continue living in the UK before trade talks begin, which has been the primary concern of EU leaders. However, the details of the plan are awaited and a cloud of uncertainty around it still exists.


Let us now discuss a few ETFs focused on providing exposure to the UK and how they have performed since the referendum (see all European Equity ETFs here).


iShares Currency Hedged MSCI United Kingdom ETF HEWU


For investors looking to gain exposure to the British markets in particular, this fund is one of the most popular pure play options available. It seeks to maintain equity exposure to its un-hedged version EWU, while hedging away the currency fluctuations between the dollar and the British pound.


The fund has AUM of $25.39 million and charges 49 basis points in fees per year. Financials, Consumer Staples and Energy are the top three sectors of this fund with 21.23%, 17.83% and 13.40% allocation, respectively (as of June 21, 2017). The top three holdings for EWU are HSBC Holdings PLC, British American Tobacco PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, with 7.14%, 5.42% and 4.78% allocation, respectively (as of June 21, 2017).  It has returned 6.76% year to date and 25.90% in the last one year (as of June 22, 2017). HEWU currently has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) with a Medium risk outlook.


WisdomTree United Kingdom Hedged Equity Fund DXPS


This fund seeks to provide exposure to U.K. dividend paying companies with an export tilt, while also hedging the currency risk.


The fund has AUM of $15.93 million and charges 48 basis points in fees per year. Consumer Staples, Energy and Financials are the top three sectors of this fund with 18.52%, 14.70% and 14.18 % allocation, respectively (as of June 22, 2017). The top three holdings for the fund are Vodafone Group PLC, AstraZeneca PLC and British American Tobacco PLC with 5.11%, 5.05% and 5.02% allocation, respectively (as of June 22, 2017). It has returned 7.24% year to date and 27.16% in the last one year (as of June 22, 2017). DXPS currently has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook.


Deutsche X-trackers MSCI United Kingdom Hedged Equity ETF DBUK


This fund seeks to provide exposure to U.K. equities while also hedging the currency risk.


The fund has AUM of $5.39 million and charges 45 basis points in fees per year. Financials, Consumer Staples and Energy are the top three sectors of this fund with 21%, 18 %, and 14% allocation, respectively. The top three holdings for the fund are HSBC Holdings PLC, British American Tobacco PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, with 7.20%, 5.46% and 4.82% allocation, respectively (as of June 21, 2017).  It returned 4.83% in the year-to-date time frame and 0.51% in the last one year (as of June 22, 2017). DBUK currently has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook.


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DEUTS-XT MS UK (DBUK): ETF Research Reports
 
ISHARS-CHM UK (HEWU): ETF Research Reports
 
WISDMTR-UK HEQ (DXPS): ETF Research Reports
 
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