A Look at Some Seasoned Core ETFs

In another sign of the emphasis investors, professional and retail alike, place on exchange traded fund fees, BlackRock’s (NYSE: BLK) iShares said Tuesday it is doubling the size of its low-cost core suite of ETFs to 20.

The new additions to the iShares core lineup include four new funds and six existing ETFs. iShares rolled out its initial batch of core ETFs in October 2012.

The $3.88 billion iShares High Dividend ETF (NYSEArca: HDV), which hit an all-time high Tuesday, is one of the existing iShares ETFs that will become a core product. [Dividend ETFs for Diversity]

HDV’s annual fee will be reduced to 0.12% from 0.4% and the fund is now known as the iShares Core High Dividend ETF. New additions to the iShares core suite include the iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF (NYSEArca: DGRO), iShares Core MSCI Europe ETF (NYSEArca: IEUR), the iShares Core MSCI Pacific ETF (NYSEArca: IPAC), iShares Core Total USD Bond Market ETF (NYSEArca: IUSB) and the iShares Core U.S. Treasury Bond ETF (NYSEArca: GOVT).

Before those funds either launch or transition to core designation on Thursday, it is worth reviewing some of the ETFs that initially made the iShares core suite so successful.

The new core ETFs “will join existing low-cost core products such as iShares Core S&P 500 (NYSEArca: IVV), iShares Core Aggregate Bond (NYSEArca: AGG) and iShares Core Emerging Markets (NYSEArca: IEMG) that have expense ratios of 0.07%, 0.08% and 0.18%, respectively. It should not

surprise that the first two have continued to gather assets since rebranding in October 2012 as they are well diversified ETFs that track well-known indices. However, the success of IEMG has been a pleasant surprise to us, said S&P Capital IQ in a new research note.

Upon its debut, IEMG, which has accumulated nearly $4.7 billion in assets under management, was seen as low-cost alternative to the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM) and a new rival to the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO).

Whatever the perception of IEMG is, the fund has proven more than adept at gathering assets with almost $4.7 billion in 19 months of trading a sign that plenty of institutional money has flowed into the ETF. IEMG charges just 0.18% per year. [Institutional Investors Like iShares Core ETFs]

“IEMG tracks a lesser-known MSCI IM emerging markets index and includes some small- and mid-cap stocks that are not found in EEM,” said S&P Capital IQ. “EEM tracks a different and more well-known MSCI Emerging Markets Index. IEMG has seen strong inflows throughout 2014, even as the broader emerging markets investment style was out of favor through the first quarter of the year and has only started to gain traction. Indeed, IEMG has seen net inflows of $1 billion year to date according to etf.com, compared to outflows of $2.7 billion for the more established and also more expensive EEM. Such strong investor interest has driven IEMG to over $4.6 billion in assets, despite just 20 months of history and provided investors with a tight bid/ask spread of $0.01 that matches EEM.”

The original iShares core suite, which also includes the $2.3 billion iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF (NYSEArca: IEFA) and the iShares Core S&P Total US Stock Market ETF (NYSEArca: ITOT), has been deemed by some in the financial press as BlackRock’s effort to better compete with Vanguard on the low-cost front.