Calendar Conundrum for Brazil ETFs in 2014

December 18th at 10:00am by Todd Shriber

Brazil exchange traded funds will end this year with dubious distinctions of being only middling performers relative to their Latin America peers and the worst performers among comparable BRIC funds.

Investors hoping for better returns from the likes of the iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWZ) in 2014 may not want to hold their collective breath. After dealing with stagflation, a weak real and widening external deficits in 2013, Brazilian stocks could face more headwinds next by way of an interesting catalyst: The calendar. [Brazil ETFs on the Brink as Economy Flails]

Next year is supposed to be the year bolsters its image on the global stage as the soccer-crazed nation hosts the World Cup, an event that is supposed to serve as a prelude to Brazil’s hosting of the 2016 Summer Olympics. However, it may be the World Cup and other events that hamper Brazil’s already flailing economy rather than providing a much-needed boost.

Somewhat jokingly, market observers are fearful that “because of the soccer World Cup, an unusually late Carnival, other holidays and a presidential election, real work will only be possible during three months next year,” Reuters reported.

The worst-case scenario is that those events and holidays could trim Brazilian GDP growth, expected to be 2.3% in 2014, to 2%, according to Reuters. While economists agree that is a far-flung scenario, Brazil can ill afford additional economic hurdles after Latin America’s largest economy shrank 0.5% in the third quarter. That is the first contraction for Brazil’s economy since 2009. [Worst Global Equity Markets by Country ETFs]

The World Cup, which has done little to boost the fortunes of EWZ and other Brazil ETFs, could prove particularly problematic for Brazilian output. Not only does the country become all but paralyzed when its national team plays, but “a law passed last year gives the 12 cities hosting World Cup matches, and the states where they are located, the right to declare special holidays on game days,” Reuters reported.

In addition to an almost 27% weight to financial services stocks, EWZ’s allocates a combined 23% of its weight to materials and industrial names, groups that could be decent ideas in the early part of 2014 as manufacturers increase output in anticipation of Carnival and World Cup lulls.

The $203.5 million Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: BRF) has an almost 39% weight to Brazilian discretionary stocks, indicating that could be a possible beneficiary of increased tourism for Carnival and the World Cup. Earlier this month, BlackRock lowered its rating on Brazilian equities to neutral. [BlackRock Isn't too Fussed on These Emerging Markets]

Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF

Tickers

BRF EWZ