Switzerland, a nation with a reputation for autonomy and often docile financial markets, roiled global markets earlier this year when the Swiss National Bank scrapped the franc’s euro peg. Since then, the franc and exchange traded funds tracking Swiss equities have soared.
The CurrencyShares Swiss Franc Trust (NYSEArca: FXF) is up 7%, an advantage of 260 basis points over the PowerShares DB U.S. Dollar Index Bullish Fund (NYSEArca: UUP), the U.S. Dollar Index tracking ETF. Not to mention Swiss sovereign debt has been strong as well.
“Furthermore, Swiss Confederation bonds have eclipsed American and British sovereign debt in performance regardless of currency denomination and now rank strongest globally across the entire maturity spectrum due to persistent refuge demand arising from Russian subversion in Eastern Europe and mounting uncertainty over Greece’s future in the European Monetary Union (EMU),” according to S&P Capital IQ. “Earlier in the year, Swiss government issuance had been vying neck-and-neck with US and UK sovereign bonds, but – since then – has overtaken both safe haven alternatives. In either USD, CHF, GBP, JPY or EUR terms, Swiss sovereign debt thus far this year has scored impressive single- to double-digit gains of increasing magnitude the longer to redemption.”
The iShares MSCI Switzerland Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWL) is up 10.1% year-to-date, one of the better performances among a non-currency hedged single-country Europe ETF. That despite the fact that Switzerland has seen its trade surplus dip from double-digit numbers to a forecasted surplus of 8.3% of GDP as its franc. [ETFs for Exporting Countries]
The $1.1 billion EWL, which is rated marketweight by S&P Capital IQ, holds 38 stocks, but the ETF is top heavy as Nestle (OTC: NSRGY), Novartis (NYSE: NVS) and Roche combine for over 44% of its weight.
“Although Swiss shares remain compositely undervalued on a relative basis compared with their benchmark (S&P Europe 350 index), their premium in absolute terms to nearly all their competitors in Western Europe – together with dormant economic prospects amid hastening deflation – discourages Global Markets Intelligence (GMI) from assessing anything more than a market-weight for the SMI,” according to S&P Capital IQ.
The research firm notes that Swiss stocks are currently more expensive than their British, French, German and Italian counterparts. Year-to-date, EWL has outperformed the comparable U.K., France and Germany ETFs while slightly trailing the iShares MSCI Italy Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWI). [Be Careful With Switzerland ETFs]