Through May 1, the WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Fund (NYSEArca: HEDJ) had added more than $13 billion in new assets this year, nearly $4 billion more than the second-best asset-gathering ETF.
Up 17.4% year-to-date, HEDJ is easily trouncing unhedged Europe ETFs, but that and the ETF’s asset-gathering acumen have not completely insolated it from criticism. As Barron’s notes, Jeremy Grantham’s GMO and Ned Davis Research are among the firms that have recently been critical of currency hedging and HEDJ, though the latter has somewhat softened its stance on the ETF.
Currency hedged ETFs, including HEDJ, clearly have plenty of supporters. Among the noteworthy is Goldman Sachs.
“Fund managers who also invest overseas should overweight Japan and Europe equities and underweight the US, provided the FX is hedged. Japan and Europe offer the prospect of superior local currency returns vs. the US during the next 12 months. Goldman Sachs strategists forecast TOPIX and Stoxx 600 will rise to 1770 (+11%) and 440 (+11%), respectively,” says Goldman’s David Kostin in a note posted by Chris Dieterich of Barron’s.
Criticism or not, there is no refuting the currency hedged in 2015. HEDJ has offered roughly double the returns of the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (NYSEArca: VGK). The Deutsche X-trackers MSCI EAFE Hedged Equity ETF (NYSEArca: DBEF), the second-best asset gathering ETF this year behind HEDJ, has outperformed the unhedged MSCI EAFE Index by over 300 basis points. [Voracious Appetite for International ETFs]
“Looking at the peer group of European-focused mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), HEDJ has ranked No. 1 in its peer group of Morningstar mutual funds and ETFs over the last one- and two-year periods,” said WisdomTree Research Director Jeremy Schwartz in a recent note. “Interestingly, if one goes back to the inception of HEDJ-when it was first focused on European markets while hedging the euro—which was August 29, 2012, there was only one fund that came out ahead of it.” [Top of Class European Performance]