ETF Trends
ETF Trends

With the success of the Guggenheim S&P Equal Weight ETF (NYSEArca: RSP) and well-deserved attention gained by some equal-weight sector and industry ETFs, investors are becoming more familiar with the advantages, disadvantages and methodology behind equal-weight strategies.

What some may not know is that equal weighting is not confined to U.S. stocks. Nor is it confined to developed markets as highlighted by the Guggenheim MSCI Emerging Markets Equal Weight ETF (NYSEArca: EWEM).

EWEM does not garner the attention that the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF(NYSEArca: EEM), but that should not be held against the Guggenheim offering. The $14.3 million EWEM is up 10.4% year-to-date and hit a new 52-week Monday on volume that was more than double the daily average. [Not Usual Emerging Markets ETF Suspects]

EWEM’s equal weighting starts in earnest after its top-two holdings, which just so happen to be the WisdomTree India Earnings Fund (NYSEArca: EPI) and the iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (NYSArca: EWZ). Those are two best of the four major BRIC single-country ETFs this year and combine for about 13% of EWEM’s weight or 78% of EWEM’s weight to those two countries.

That brings up another important point. EWEM is not equal-weight countries or sectors, but rather its equity holdings that follow EPI and EWZ.

EWEM is underweight Brazil and overweight India relative to EEM. The equal-weight offering is also slightly overweight Taiwanese stocks compared to EEM while being underweight Chinese and South Korean stocks. [South Korea, Taiwan Remain Emerging Markets]

At the sector level, financial services and energy, two of the mainstay sectors of many emerging markets ETFs, combine for just 27% of EWEM’s weight compared to almost 37% of EEM. The Guggenheim offering is also underweight technology compared to EEM, but the former is overweight consumer discretionary, industrial and materials names compared to its rival,

An advantage offered by EWEM, depending upon the market environment, is reduced exposure to state-controlled enterprises. As seasoned emerging markets investors know, there are times when state-run companies disappoint investors. Six such firms combining for over 6% of EEM’s weight are found among that ETF’s top-10 holdings.

In EWEM, Russia’s Gazprom, as just one example, does not even account for a third of the ETF’s weight and even in aggregate, Chinese banks are not important drivers of EWEM’s overall performance.

Guggenheim MSCI Emerging Markets Equal Weight ETF

Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of EEM and RSP.