In what is proving to be a good year for emerging markets stocks and exchange traded funds, funds targeting consumers in the developing world are delivering on the promise of growth.
Year-to-date, the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM), the two largest emerging markets ETFs by assets, are up an average of 10.8%. However, EEM’s combined allocation to consumer-related sectors is just 17%, meaning an ETF such as the EGShares Emerging Markets Consumer ETF (NYSEArca: ECON) can serve as a useful complement to more traditional emerging markets funds. [Getting Selective With Emerging Markets]
ECON is up nearly 10% this year and is one of 30 ETFs (at this writing) to have made a new all-time high Tuesday. While this year’s emerging markets rally has been impressive, ECON’s performance is arguably more noteworthy when considering the pockets of consumer weakness throughout the developing world.
For example, ECON’s largest country weight is almost 20% to South Africa. Not only is South Africa no longer Africa’s largest economy, but the resource-rich country is plagued by unemployment that, by some estimates, hovers north of 20%. Additionally, the economy there has been hindered this year by labor strikes at platinum and palladium mines. [South Africa ETF Endures Macro Woes]
Despite all that, the iShares MSCI South Africa ETF (NYSEArca: EZA) is up nearly 13% this year and is currently flirting with 52-week highs. EZA allocates 24% of its weight to the consumer discretionary sector. Strength in some of EZA’s discretionary holdings has clearly trickled down to ECON. Both ETFs feature South African media giant Nasapers as their largest holding.
ECON has also managed to with Brazil’s interest rates, which are among the highest in the developing world and seen as punitive to consumers there. Financial markets apparently view the Brazilian consumer through a more positive lens because the Global X Brazil Consumer ETF (NYSEArca: BRAQ) is up 17% this year. That is good for ECON, an ETF that devotes 15% of its weight to Latin America’s largest economy. [Brazil ETF Rallies as Rousseff Slumps]