Earlier this year, exchange traded funds tracking Japanese stocks lost some of the luster acquired in 2014 as the yen was reborn as a safe-haven play and global investors began doubting the efficacy of Abenomics.
Year-to-date, the iShares MSCI Japan ETF (NYSEArca: EWJ) and the WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (NYSEArca: DXJ) are down 2% and 2.2%, respectively. However, Japan ETFs have recently perked up as highlighted by DXJ’s nearly 5% gain over the past month. [Positive Signs for Big Japan ETF]
Investors looking for a more tactical approach to Japanese stocks, which trade at a rare, narrow discount to their U.S. counterparts, may want to have look at Japanese banks as represented by the newly minted WisdomTree Japan Hedged Financials Fund (NYSEArca: DXJF).
“Financials are the lowest-priced part of Japan’s market, as measured by the price-to earnings ratio or price-to-book ratios, and could be a higher beta exposure for those who want to make what is now a contrarian allocation to Japan,” said WisdomTree Research Director Jeremy Schwartz in a recent note.
Other professional investors see value in Japanese banks as well. For example, David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital recently announced a stake in Resona, calling the stock “cheap on both an absolute and relative basis.”
Resona is DXJ’s 12th-largest holding at a weight of 3%. That is just one of the ETF’s 82 holdings, but the sum of DXJF’s parts has rewarded investors since the fund debuted on April 8th. Since then, DXJF is up almost 5%, more than double the 2.2% gained by the Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF) over the same time.