Strategic Use of Country ETFs

There are about 150 single-country exchange traded funds trading in the U.S., offering investors concentrated exposure to an array of developed and emerging markets.

The single-country ETF space is rapidly expanding. Nearly 30 such ETFs have come to market “within the last two years and about 50 of which were launched over the last three years,” according to BlackRock Managing Director Sue Thompson, CIMA. [Clearing Up Single-Country ETF Misconceptions]

Some ETF strategists employ tactical strategies specific to single-country ETFs.

“Dave Garff, Chief Investment Officer of Accuvest described in early June the company’s International strategy offering as simply overweighting exposure relative to the MSCI ACWI ex- US index to those countries that they believe are most attractive and underweighting those least appealing. Accuvest ranks, on a monthly basis, all developed and emerging market MSCI country indices across four largely equally weighted dimensions. These are fundamentals (e.g. leading indicators and long-term earnings growth), valuation (e.g. price/book and price to cash earnings), risk (e.g. downside volatility and political landscape) and momentum (on a local currency basis),” said S&P Capital IQ in a recent research note.

The countries that rank the highest in the Accuvest model account for the largest positions within the firm’s portfolio.

Although the firm recently reduced its stake in the db X-trackers MSCI Japan Hedged Equity Fund (NYSEArca: DBJP), it was still the third-largest portfolio at the end of May, according to S&P Capital IQ. Japanese stocks started the year in lethargic fashion, but have come roaring back over the past two months.

Bolstered by a weaker yen, compelling valuations that recently dipped below those on U.S. equities and news that Japan’s $1.26 trillion public pension fund plans to invest more in equities, Japanese stocks have rallied. DBJP, which S&P Capita IQ rates marketweight, is up 8.7% since April 11. [Pension Infusion Will Lift Japan ETFs]