The recent woes suffered by momentum stocks and exchange traded funds are well-documented. At this point, it is not a stretch to say plenty of investors are aware that ETFs that were last year’s darlings have fallen out of favor.
That list includes large, well-known funds such as the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) and the First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index Fund (FDN) . However, the shift to value sectors and ETFs from momentum plays has not been confined to U.S.-focused offerings. The same rotation is afoot in emerging markets.
“Last year, investors crowded into emerging-market Internet companies and Macau casino operators. Pure plays were part of the attraction, but so was the perception of better corporate governance, especially in China and Russia, whose equity markets are dominated by state-owned enterprises,” reports Shuli Ren for Barron’s.
As investors bemoaned the slack performances of state-run companies from China to Brazil, momentum ETFs, particularly those with heavy exposure to Chinese Internet stocks and Macau gambling soared.
Last year, the iShares China Large-Cap ETF (FXI) , the largest China ETF, lost 2.2% and was one of the 10 worst ETFs in terms of outflows. FXI struggled as ETFs such as the Powershares Golden Dragon Halter USX China Portfolio (PGJ) and the KraneShares CSI China Internet Fund (KWEB) ranked among the year’s best non-leveraged ETFs. [Waiting for a China Internet ETF Bounce]
In 2014, investors have favored what they perceive as value or blue chip bets in emerging markets just as they have in the U.S. It can be debated that Brazil’s Petrobras (PBR) is a blue chip oil company on par with Exxon Mobil (XOM) or Chevron (CVX). Likewise, investors can argue that Indian information technology firms have yet to achieve the blue chip status sported by IBM (IBM) or Microsoft (MSFT).
However, it cannot be debated that the WisdomTree India Earnings Fund (EPI) and the iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (EWZ) are up 23.5% and 19.3%, respectively, over the past 90 days. [Returning to EM ETFs]
Over that same period, last year’s high-fliers have struggled and that includes ETFs with multi-country exposure. The Market Vectors-Gaming ETF (BJK) is off 1.6% over the past three months while the Global X Social Media Index ETF (SOCL) has plunged 18%.
SOCL’s large weights to stocks such as Facebook (FB) and LinkedIn (LNKD) should not obfuscate the fact that the ETF has substantial emerging markets exposure. For example, China’s Tencent, Sina (SINA) and Russia’s Yandex (YNDX) combine for almost 22% of SOCL’s weight. China represents over 25% of the ETF’s country weight. [Social Media Slump]
WisdomTree India Earnings Fund
Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of Facebook and Microsoft.