Europe has been one of the most exciting equity markets in 2015. With the S&P 500 Index up 2.30% through February 17, 2015, euro-area stocks in local currency1 are up 10.32% 2. It’s important to note that these same stocks in U.S. dollar terms are only up 3.92%3, due to the significant depreciation of the euro that we’ve witnessed.
It’s precisely this difference that has created a desire among investors to own euro-area equities4 without layering on the additional risk of the euro. The WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Fund (HEDJ) has been a prime vehicle through which to express this theme, taking in more than $4.3 billion in 2015 through February 13.5
Euro Depreciation Can Give Euro-Area Exporters an Advantage
HEDJ tracks the performance of the WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Index (euro-area exporters), an Index that is primarily executing two systematic investment actions in its rules-based methodology:
• Removing the Risk of the Euro: Currency movements are difficult to predict, especially in the short term, but we believe that European Central Bank president Mario Draghi’s blockbuster announcement of an open-ended quantitative easing program on January 22, 2015, makes it difficult to build a case for euro strength. Why own this source of risk?
• Focusing on Exporters: Every constituent of the WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Index must generate more than 50% of its revenues from outside Europe. As the euro depreciates, we believe these companies have the greatest potential to see their goods and services become less expensive to their international customers. We also believe that global multinationals offer good potential case studies of instances where profit growth can look quite different from economic growth, which we know for the euro area has been lackluster.
How Effective Has Focusing on Euro-Area Exporters Been?
We know that the euro has been depreciating against the U.S. dollar, so for the moment let’s put that part of the methodology aside and ask a simple question: Have we seen any benefit from focusing this Index on European exporters? Below we compare euro-area exporters to euro-area equities5 to find out.
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WisdomTree shares are bought and sold at market price (not NAV) and are not individually redeemed from the Fund. Total returns are calculated using the daily 4:00 p.m. EST net asset value (NAV). Market price returns reflect the midpoint of the bid/ask spread as of the close of trading on the exchange where Fund shares are listed. Market price returns do not represent the returns you would receive if you traded shares at other times.
You cannot invest directly in an index. Index performance does not represent actual fund or portfolio performance. A fund or portfolio may differ significantly from the securities included in the index. Index performance assumes reinvestment of dividends but does not reflect any management fees, transaction costs or other expenses that would be incurred by a portfolio or fund, or brokerage commissions on transactions in fund shares. Such fees, expenses and commissions could reduce returns.
Average Annual Returns, as of December 31, 2014