Broadly speaking, 2014 has been unkind to emerging markets exchange traded funds. That much is confirmed by the average year-to-date loss of about 4.5% for the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM), the two largest emerging markets ETF by assets.
Although it has been another year of disappointments for emerging markets ETFs, there have been pockets of strength. Among single-country funds, that includes India ETFs, which have easily been the best BRIC performers. When it comes to multi-country and regional emerging markets funds, the SPDR S&P Emerging Asia Pacific ETF (NYSEArca: GMF) has stood tall.
GMF has jumped 8.3% year-to-date and with Asian markets expected to again be leaders among developing world equities in 2015, GMF is well-positioned to an emerging markets leader again next year.
In addition to a 41.2% weight to China, GMF allocates almost 40% of its combined weight to Taiwan and India, though the ETF features no exposure to South Korean stocks because Standard & Poor’s, GMF’s index provider, considers South Korea to be a developed market while some rival index providers still classify Asia’s fourth-largest economy as an emerging market. [This Asia Pacific ETF is Winning]
GMF’s large weights to China and India are predictable for ETFs that focus on emerging Asian equities, but choosy investors realize Emerging Europe and Latin America stocks have been laggards. Investors will need to remain selective with emerging markets ETFs in the new year. That includes employing a preference for Asian economies over emerging Europe and Latin America equivalents while also focusing on reform-minded economies. [Where to Look With EM ETFs in 2015]
There is also value in considering reform-minded emerging markets. That includes China and India as well as Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Those countries combine for nearly 12% of GMF’s weight.