The iShares MSCI Philippines ETF (NYSEArca: EPHE), previously a shining star among emerging markets ETFs this year, has been stung by some of the same factors that have plagued other funds tracking developing world economies. Namely, a plummeting currency and fears regarding the Federal Reserve tapering its quantitative easing program.
In fairness to EPHE, the lone Philippines ETF has gained about 5.2% over the past month, a performance that is roughly twice as good as what the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) has offered. However, EPHE has lost about 2% in the past week, a decline that could further cement the notion that the ETF is no longer as sensitive to positive headlines a it previously was. [Good News no Longer Benefiting Philippines ETF]
Those bullish headlines have included upward revisions for GDP growth and multiple sovereign debt ratings upgrades that helped the Philippines land investment-grade credit ratings. The Philippines landed two investment-grade ratings earlier this year, the first from Fitch Ratings and the second from Standard & Poor’s, and a third one could arrive this week with a team from Moody’s Investors Service visiting the Southeast Asian country. [Philippines ETF Rises on Credit Upgrade]
Last Friday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said the New York-based debt watcher is scheduled to visit this week, which is expected to be followed by a committee meeting back home, according to the Philippine Star. The central bank governor told the Star his country could gain an investment-grade rating from Moody’s “sooner than earlier expected.” Last week, the ratings agency put the Philippines on review for a possible upgrade.
Moody’s currently rates Philippine sovereign debt Ba1, the highest junk rating. However, with two ratings agencies having beaten Moody’s to the punch, a third investment-grade rating for the Philippines may already be priced into shares of EPHE and bond ETFs such as the WisdomTree Asia Local Debt Fund (NYSEArca: ALD) that have exposure to the country. ALD has a 5.62% weight to peso-denominated bonds.