International small-cap exchange traded funds (ETFs) are the latest frontier that providers have captured. There are now five choices in this space and ETFs that have the same asset class are not always the same underneath. Matthew Hougan for Index Universe takes us on an expedition, to dig deeper into these small-cap ETFs and discover what is behind the ticker symbols and their index returns.

iShares MSCI EAFE Small-Cap (SCZ) launched last week and has an expense ratio 0.40%. Industrials make up 23.5% of the ETF, followed by financials at 20.7% and consumer discretionary at 16.1%. Top countries represented are Japan at 24.8%, the U.K. at 19.8% and Australia at 8.9%.

iShares FTSE Developed ex-U.S. Small-Cap (IFSM) began trading last month with an expense ratio 0.50%. Top sectors represented in this ETF include industrials at 28.5%, financials at 22.4% and consumer services at 12.9%. The U.K. makes up 24.1% of the ETF, followed by Japan at 15.9% and France with 6.1%.

PowerShares FTSE RAFI Developed ex-U.S. Small-Mid (PDN) hit the market in September with an expense ratio of 0.75%. Consumer discretionary makes up 18.3% of this ETF, while consumer staples is 9.4% and energy is 3.8%. Japan is the top country represented with 34.4%, the U.K. is 11.9% and Hong Kong makes up 7.0%. PDN also includes mid-cap companies.

SPDR S&P International Small-Cap (GWX) launched earlier this year in April and has an expense ratio of 0.60%. GWX consists of industrials at 25.8%, consumer discretionary at 19.4% and financials at 16.9%. Japan is again the top weighted country at 24.0%, followed by the U.K. at 12.0% and Canada at 10.9%.

WisdomTree International Small-Cap Dividend Fund (DLS) was the first to launch in June 2006. It has an expense ratio of 0.58%. The top sectors are industrials at 25.3%, consumer non-cyclical at 18.1% and financials at 17.8%. Japan’s weight in DLS is 22.6%, Australia follows with 18.5% and then the U.K. at 18.3%.

This illustrates that there can be many choices within a certain asset class. The conclusion is to dig deep to find out what the differences are and what fits with your portfolio and your financial goals.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, 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.