Investing in Pakistan? There’s an ETF for That

Business is booming for single-country exchange traded funds. There are now over 200 such ETFs trading in the U.S. with over $100 billion in combined assets under management. Add the Global X MSCI Pakistan ETF (NYSEArca: PAK) to the list.

PAK, the first dedicated U.S.-listed Pakistan ETF, has been a long time coming. New York-based Global X, an issuer that is no stranger to exotic single-country offerings, filed plans for a Pakistan ETF more than five years ago. [Global X Explores new ETF Frontiers]

Pakistan, ranked the world’s 44th-largest economy by nominal GDP last year by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is classified as a frontier market. Prior to the debut of PAK, the iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (NYSEArca: FM) was the ETF with the largest Pakistan exposure. Pakistan is FM’s fourth-largest country weight at 10.4%. [Pakistan set to be a Bigger Part of This ETF]

Pakistan was demoted to frontier status in 2009 after its equity market was closed to sellers for over 100 days during the 2008 global financial crisis, according to news reports. However, Pakistan’s benchmark Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index has since been one of the best-performing equity benchmarks in the world.

The index currently trades around 33,456, up from just under 29,000 on March 30. Up nearly 23% over the past year, the KSE 100, has roughly tripled since the fourth quarter of 2011. In 2013, Pakistan was home to the world’s fifth-best equity market with a gain of nearly 50%.

PAK tracks the MSCI Pakistan Index and is home to 31 stocks. Like many ETFs that track frontier and smaller emerging markets, PAK is heavy on financials services stocks with that sector commanding nearly a third of the new fund’s weight. Pakistan’s status as a major producer of fossil fuels and other natural resources leads to a combined weight of 57.2% to the energy and materials sectors for PAK, according to Global X data.