Two India-focused exchange traded funds (ETFs) have been locked in a fierce race to the starting line, and one of them finally reached it today.
The WisdomTree India Earnings Fund (EPI) began trading on the NYSE Arca this morning, trading a million shares straight out of the gate. On Monday or Tuesday, PowerShares will follow up with its own India ETF: the PowerShares India Portfolio (PIN).
There’s huge demand for an India ETF. For a time, there was the iPath MSCI India Index (INP) investors could use to get exposure. Once India changed up its foreign investing rules, the ETN was pretty much down for the count as no new shares were being issued.
While the two ETFs they might have one country in common, their underlying indexes are constructed very differently.
WisdomTree’s fund, as its name implies, is based on an earnings-weighted index of 150 companies. It’s made up of companies listed on the Indian National Stock Exchange or the Mumbai Stock Exchange that issue ordinary common shares that are eligible for foreign ownership. Each company has a minimum $200 million market cap, $5 million in earnings in the fiscal year before the screening date and a price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) of at least 2. Each September, the index is rebalanced.
Because of India’s restrictions on foreign investment, the index’s creators aimed to build a broad index. The dividend payout ratio and dividend yield in the India stock market are among the lowest in the developing world, thus the decision to go by earnings.
The PowerShares fund, on the other hand, used a patent-pending proprietary method to build an index “as investable as possible” while getting around the country’s restrictions.
It’s made up of 50 of the largest Indian stocks, weighted by “IndusCap,” a methodology that specifically addresses the foreign ownership limits. PowerShares believes it will deliver a more accurate representation of the capitalization in each company than market-cap or float-weight.
Who will come out ahead as the top performer? Which index will work best with India’s complicated rules regarding foreign investing? Only time will tell on this one.
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.