Pacquiao Could Put Fight Back in Philippines ETF

The iShares MSCI Philippines ETF (NYSEArca: EPHE), much like the nation it offers exposure to, could use a lift.

Since the start of November, EPHE has tumbled 7.4%, a decline hastened by devastating Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 4,000 Filipinos and injured nearly 18,600 others. Since the storm struck on Nov. 8, the benchmark index in the Philippines has lost nearly 4%, good for the second-worst performance in the world over that time, according to Bloomberg.

Saturday’s boxing match between Manny Pacquiao, arguably the most popular athlete in Philippines history, and Brandon Rios is seen as a potential catalyst for EPHE. That is if Pacquiao wins.

While it may sound like hokum, data prove that Philippine equities are somewhat sensitive to Pacquiao’s success.

“A victory by Pacquiao will help lift the Philippine spirit at a time when it’s facing the impact of calamities. The nation definitely needs to hear something positive right now,” Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at BDO Unibank, told Bloomberg.

There was a time when EPHE did not need Pacquiao’s heroics. Prior to global markets having their “taper tantrum” in the second quarter, EPHE was soaring even as other emerging markets ETF wilted. Through the second quarter, the Philippines reported four consecutive quarters of GDP growth of at least 7%. [Philippines ETF Breaks Slump on GDP Report]