Buoyed by impressive economic growth, the iShares MSCI Ireland Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EIRL) has climbed 13.5% year-to-date, good for one of the best performances among single-country exchange traded funds tracking Eurozone nations. However, there is more to the story when it comes the steadiness of EIRL and the Irish economy.
In the first quarter, the Irish economy expanded by an upwardly revised 5.2% in 2014, its best performance since 2007, and the country’s economy is now larger than at the height of its so-called Celtic Tiger boom. Ireland’s central bank pointed to support from domestic demand as robust retail sales and an improved labor market bolstered the economy. [As Greece Risks Fade, Overweight Europe ETFs Back in Play]
Often seen as the steadiest hand of the five PIIGS ETFs, is up 22.2% over the past year.
“A big reason the country has done so well is that it applied austerity in quick and dramatic fashion by cutting spending and raising taxes. This, along with a weak euro which helped bolster exports, has Ireland’s government predicting gross domestic product growth of 6 percent this year, matching last year’s pace. In addition, the country’s unemployment rate has dropped, from 15 percent in 2012 to 9.7 percent today,” reports Eric Balchunas for Bloomberg.
The $163.3 million EIRL holds 24 stocks with the materials and consumer staples sectors combining for half the ETF’s weight. The ETF is top heavy as CRH Plc occupies almost 21% of EIRL’s weight on its own. EIRL’s top five holdings combine for over 54% of the fund’s weight.
“Ireland’s performance over the past four years stands in stark contrast to its peripheral peers in the euro zone. Portuguese stocks are down about 12 percent, equities in Italy are up 32 percent, and Spain’s are up 15 percent. Unsurprisingly, debt-ridden Greece has been the worst performer, down 33 percent since the debt crisis,” according to Bloomberg.
iShares MSCI Ireland Capped ETF
The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.