Amid exponential growth for such products, State Street’s (NYSE: STT) State Street Global Advisors (SSgA) unit, the third-largest U.S. ETF issuer, is entering the currency hedged exchange traded funds arena with today’s debut of the SPDR EURO STOXX 50 Currency Hedged ETF (NYSEArca: HFEZ).
The SPDR EURO STOXX 50 Currency Hedged ETF is the currency hedged answer to an already well-heeled SSgA fund, the $4.88 billion SPDR EURO STOXX 50 (NYSEArca: FEZ).
“The SPDR EURO STOXX 50 Currency Hedged ETF seeks to track the performance of the EURO STOXX 50 Hedged USD Index. This Index was developed for investors seeking exposure to the EURO STOXX 50 Index, which includes 50 liquid Eurozone stocks from 12 countries, while looking to reduce the risk of currency fluctuations. The SPDR EURO STOXX 50 Currency Hedged ETF has a net expense ratio of 0.32%, according to State Street.
That expense ratio puts HFEZ at the lower end of the fee spectrum among Europe currency hedged ETFs.
Data has yet to be posted on HFEZ, but looking at FEZ can give investors a sense for how the new SSgA currency hedged ETF is going to look. FEZ devotes almost two-thirds of its combined weight to French and German stocks with another 12.9% going to Spanish equities. The other countries represented in FEZ, in order by weight, are the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Finland. [Capture Overseas Opportunities with These ETFs]
The largest sector weight in FEZ is financial services at nearly 27% while consumer discretionary, industrials, consumer staples and healthcare each receive double-digit allocations. FEZ is home to plenty of stocks well-known to U.S. investors including French pharmaceuticals giant and Warren Buffett holding Sanofi (NYSE: SNY), Total (NYSE: TOT) and Banco Santander (NYSE: SAN).
HFEZ has the potential to offer investors a currency hedged avenue to recovering European dividend growth. Investors are pressuring European countries to send more cash to shareholders as U.S. companies have engaged in hefty dividend hikes and record stock repurchases, rewarding investors with over half of operating cash flows – about 28% was allocated to buybacks and 24% to dividends. In contrast, the overall figure was only one-third for European stock investors. [Europe ETFs With Juicy Yields]
According to Markit research, European company stock payouts jumped 10.3% in the fiscal 2014 year-over-year, the fastest dividend growth since 2010, reports Dhara Renasinghe for CNBC.
““European equities are attractive in light of recent accommodative monetary policy and improving economic activity,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist for the US Intermediary Business at SSGA, in a statement. “An allocation that is divided between hedged and unhedged exposures may help investors and advisors reduce the risk of future currency fluctuations, which is why we see HFEZ as a natural complement to our popular SPDR EURO STOXX 50 ETF.”
FEZ Top 10 Holdings
Table Courtesy: SSgA