In what is merely a reprisal of a theme that has been lingering for some time, exchange traded funds continue to look miserable when compared to broader benchmark emerging markets ETFs.
Entering Tuesday, the iShares Latin American 40 ETF (NYSEArca: ILF) sported a 10.2% year-to-date decline compared to a 2.9% loss for the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM). The Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO), the largest emerging markets ETF, is clinging to a modest year-to-date gain.
Measuring ILF’s ratio against EEM, the second-largest emerging markets ETF, is a worthwhile task for any investor looking to bottom-fish with LatAm stocks. As J.C. Parets of Eagle Bay Capital points out, the spread between ILF and EEM is hitting levels not seen since 2005 and that is not a good thing for the LatAm ETF.
“The point of this ratio analysis is for us to get a structural perspective on where money is flowing. I’m not controlling Billions of Dollars (yet), but those that do move markets in trends like these. It takes time for a cruise ship to turn around; it’s a process. Same thing with Billions, or sometimes Trillions, of Dollars. Seeing these shifts in money flow and huge structural reversals like these are evidence of that shift in money flow. I think these trends are likely here to stay for now and see little reason to believe that emerging markets are where we want to be, particularly on a relative basis,” says Parets.
Compounding ILF’s recent woes are tumbling oil prices. The $834.3 million ETF allocates 82.5% of its weight to Brazil and Mexico, Latin America’s two largest oil producers. Mexico depends on oil revenue for about half of government receipts. While the ETF is spared the misfortune of holding Venezuelan stocks, ILF does sport an almost 2.4% weight to Colombia.
Colombia is South America’s third-largest oil producer behind Brazil and OPEC member Venezuela. As a result, Colombia tussled with Russia last month for the dubious honor of the worst-performing developing world equity market. [Oil Crushed These Country ETFs in November]