U.S. small-caps are surging, helping the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSEArca: IWM) to an almost 33% year-to-date gain. Diversified, large-cap Europe exchange traded funds are soaring as well. The SPDR EURO STOXX 50 Fund (NYSEArca: FEZ) is up more than 20%.
Considering those statistics, it may be easy to overlook European small-caps, but that asset class merits more consideration. Take the case of the WisdomTree Europe SmallCap Dividend Fund (NYSEArca: DFE). DFE is up 30.3% year-to-date, a performance that is not too far off the 32.7% gained by IWM and well ahead of the 19.5% pop offered by the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (NYSEArca: VGK). [Big Europe ETF, Rivals Shine]
DFE, which has $397.1 million in assets under management, resides near the top of the Europe ETF group despite lacking significant exposure to Eurozone nations, some of which have been significant drivers of ETF returns this year. [Spain ETF Presents a Buying Opportunity]
The U.K. and Sweden, neither of which are Eurozone members, combine for nearly 40% of DFE’s weight. Predictably, DFE’s small-cap posture does mean an uptick in volatility. The WisdomTree Europe SmallCap Dividend Index has annualized volatility of 25.5% and a beta of almost 1.18 against the MSCI EAFE Index since inception in mid-2006, according to WisdomTree data.
Italy and Germany are DFE’s largest Eurozone weights, combining for 22.6% of the fund. Overall, DFE has some exposure to 10 Eurozone nations.
Still, some market observers see potential in European small-caps, including some of roughly 235 holdings, because the region’s small-caps were hit hardest the sovereign debt crisis and subsequent economic malaise. Valuations for European small-caps are currently inline with long-term averages, though not expensive.
Investors have shown their faith in European small-caps by pouring $257.5 million, or more than half the ETF’s current AUM total, into DFE since the start of the September. Since then, the ETF is up 13.3%, helping make it the third-best WisdomTree ETF on a year-to-date basis as of the end of the third quarter, according to the issuer. DFE has a 30-day SEC yield of almost 2.8%.
WisdomTree Europe SmallCap Dividend Fund