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Returning to Emerging Markets ETFs

ETFtrends.com

As recently as the first quarter, investors were scurrying out of emerging markets exchange traded funds, pulling $1 billion from ETFs tracking stocks in developing economies. That after two emerging markets ETFs – the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) and the WisdomTree Emerging Markets Equity Income Fund (DEM) – ranked among the 10 worst ETFs for 2014 outflows.

That trend is reversing in the second quarter as compelling valuations, among other factors, are finally luring investors back to emerging markets equities and funds.

“ So far in the second quarter, they have poured $5.3 billion into related exchange-traded funds, citing growth prospects and attractive valuations for a group they had been selling broadly since September. That is more than double the total net investments in emerging market equity ETFs for all of 2014, according to FactSet data,” reports Ashley Lau for Reuters.

To this point in the second quarter, investors have allocated $1.43 billion to EEM and almost $459 million to the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) . VWO and EEM are the two largest emerging markets ETFs by assets, but investors have poured into other emerging markets funds as well. [EM ETFs to Consider]

For example, the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG) continues to be a popular alternative for investors – professional and retail – looking for a cost-efficient alternative to EEM. IEMG debuted in October 2012 as part of the iShares core lineup of low-fee ETFs aimed at cost-conscious investors, but with $7.95 billion in assets, $578 million of which have come into the fund this quarter, it is clear IEMG has a broad following. [Shrinkage for a Popular EM ETF]

IEMG charges 0.18% per year, well below the 0.69% annual fee on EEM.

Investors are also embracing alternative strategies for accessing developing world stocks via ETFs. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Minimum Volatility ETF (EEMV) has hauled in $352 million in new assets this quarter.

EEMV’s “strategy has had a good track record–as measured by the back-tested performance of this fund’s benchmark index (the index’s live performance commenced in November 2009). Over the trailing 15- and 10-year periods through April 2015, this fund’s underlying index generated 408 and 335 basis points, respectively, of annualized outperformance versus the cap-weighted MSCI Emerging Markets Index, with significantly lower volatility,” according to Morningstar.

The ETF, which turns four in October, is, not surprisingly lightly allocated to higher beta emerging markets. For example, EEMV holds no Russian stocks and Brazil and India combine for just over 6% of the ETF’s weight. [Favored EM ETF Idea]

iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF

iemg

Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of DEM and EEM. Todd Shriber owns shares of DEM.