Once cast aside as if they were two-week old newspapers, exchange traded funds devoted exclusively to the four BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – are bouncing back.
All three dedicated BRIC ETFs have posted solid gains in the month of March. That is no small feat considering the spate of concerning economic data flowing out of China, the volatility in Russian financial markets due to that country’s invasion of Ukraine and the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of Brazil’s sovereign debt rating. [Brazil ETFs Deal With Ratings Downgrade]
During the first quarter, India ETFs have been the shining stars among the BRIC group, a fact confirmed by a March gain of 13.3% for the WisdomTree India Earnings Fund (NYSEArca: EPI). Although U.S. investors have been reluctant to reenter India ETFs, the benchmark Sensex has hit a series of record highs, helped by large, foreign, institutional investors gobbling up Indian shares. [Institutional Investors Return to Indian Stocks]
India is usually no higher than the third-largest country weight in BRIC ETFs and that is a good segue to discussing the various country weights within the various BRIC funds.
The $380.6 million iShares MSCI BRIC ETF (NYSEArca: BKF) is up nearly 5% this month, although the fund allocates 43% of its weight to China. China ETFs are showing signs of life, but have lagged rival India funds for all of this quarter and have not shown the same spark as comparable Brazil funds in recent weeks. Fortunately, over 42% of BKF’s combined weight goes to Brazil and India.
The $154.6 million SPDR S&P BRIC 40 ETF (NYSEArca: BIK) devotes nearly three-quarters of its combined weight to China and Russia. That could be an advantage if investors earnestly buy into the notion that Chinese and Russian stocks are too inexpensive to ignore.
Although BIK is up more than 2% this month, the ETF is being hampered by large exposure to state-run firms. Additionally, Tencent, China’s largest Internet company, is BIK’s largest holding at 8.2%, which has been a disadvantage for the ETF in recent weeks. [Tencent Weighing on These ETFs]
The $175.9 Guggenheim BRIC ETF (NYSEArca: EEB) is India light (just 10.3%) and Brazil heavy (almost 30.5%). EEB’s 27.7% weight to Russia is large among multi-country emerging markets ETFs, the fund’s large Brazil and energy sector exposure should prove advantageous assuming Petrobras (NYSEArca: PBR) continues its recently established leadership role among Brazilian large-caps. Some help from Russian state-run energy giants would be appreciated as two are found among EEB’s top-10 holdings. [Is There Value in Russia ETFs]
Investors can also leave Russia behind will keep the other BRIC countries with the First Trust BICK Index Fund (NasdaqGM: BICK). The “K” in BICK stands for South Korea, which given that country’s reputation for being one of the least volatile emerging markets, helps damp BICK’s volatility relative to rival funds. BICK subscribes to an equal weight methodology to ensure each country accounts for 25% of the fund’s weight. It is up 4.7% this month.
iShares MSCI BRIC ETF
Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of EEB.