One sovereign debt default is usually enough to jaundice a country in investors’ eyes for years. Argentina is flirting with its third in less than 30 years, but renewed default concerns for the South American nation have not been a major issue for the Global X FTSE Argentina 20 ETF (NYSEArca: ARGT).
At least not yet. Today is Argentina’s day of reckoning. The country must pay holdout creditors, including some U.S. hedge funds, or risk a third default. That is not standing in the way of upside for Argentine equities. Over the past two days, the country’s benchmark Merval Index has posted an average gain of about 6.1%.
For its part, ARGT is higher by 3.8% today on volume that is already 20% above the daily average, a performance that is good enough to make the lone Argentina ETF the top-performing non-leveraged to this point in Wednesday’s session. [Frontier ETFs Survive Argentina Woes]
Entering Wednesday, ARGT was down 0.9% this month, which is not catastrophic considering the default concerns. In fact, some investors have not been shy about betting on more upside for ARGT. After adding over $22.4 million in new assets this month, ARGT has tripled in size to nearly $33.6 million in assets under management, according to Global X data.
On Wednesday, shares of energy firm YPF (NYSE: YPF), ARGT’s second-largest holding at a weight of 12.1%, are up 8.3% on volume that is approaching triple the daily average. E-commerce company MercadoLibre (NasdaqGS: MELI) is up 2.6%. The stock is ARGT’s second-largest holding at a weight of 10.1%.
Perhaps some prescient investors realize another Argentina default may be much ado about nothing. After all, “the country is willing and able to pay, but is held back by capital control rules set up by the U.S. court,” notes Shuli Ren for Barron’s.
Earlier this month, Third Point’s Dan Loeb said he believes Argentina will reach an agreement with its creditor and noted he is bullish on YPF. [Loeb Likes Argentina, Mexico]
Argentina has already set aside the cash for looming interest payments. Entering Wednesday, ARGT sported a six-month gain of 25.3%, better than double the returns offered by the comparable Mexico and Peru ETFs over the same period.
ARGT will transition to an index from MSCI next month.
Global X FTSE Argentina 20 ETF