Investors Exploring Frontier Market ETFs

June 19th at 9:35am by John Spence

Emerging markets have been awful this year but ETFs tracking a subset of the asset class, frontier markets, have posted solid performance and growing inflows.

ETFs for this category include iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (NYSEArca: FM), Guggenheim Frontier Markets ETF (NYSEArca: FRN) and PowerShares MENA Frontier Countries Portfolio (NasdaqGM: PMNA).

FM is up 11% year to date, compared with a loss of about 10% for iShares MSCI Emerging Markets (NYSEArca: EEM), according to Morningstar.

The frontier markets ETF’s top 10 country allocations are Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kenya, Oman, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Vietnam. The fund has weakened lately after peaking in early June. [A Look at a Specialized Emerging Market ETF]

Assets in ETFs that focus on frontier markets have climbed 52% this year to $820 million, reports Eric Balchunas for Bloomberg.

FM is the largest in the group with $223 million of assets. So far in 2013, the ETF has attracted about $202 million of inflows. The fund charges an expense ratio of 0.79%. [Frontier ETF Beating Emerging Markets]

“Investors have increasingly easy access to some of the most exotic, promising and yet challenged regions of the investing world,” Balchunas writes.

Of course, long-term investors looking for higher returns in risky frontier markets ETFs should also be prepared for volatility.

“One of the less obvious attractions of venturing into these markets is that they don’t move in lockstep (to use the jargon, they don’t correlate) with the broader stock market or even emerging markets,” Balchunas added. “That means they can offer increased portfolio diversification by zigging when other markets zag.”

iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of John Spence, 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.

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