The iShares MSCI South Korea Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWY), which tries to reflect the performance of the MSCI Korea 25/50 Index, is down less than 4% year-to-date, a performance that is nothing to get excited about but one that is also noticeably better than widely followed, diversified emerging markets exchange traded funds.
Since EWY, the largest South Korea trading in the U.S., has a reputation for being less volatile than benchmark emerging markets ETFs and plenty of single-country funds as well, it is not surprising the fund has been less bad than its counterparts.
South Korea’s auto industry also picked up in the third quarter, with Hyundai Motors Co revealing a 6.3% increase in car sales over October while Kia Motors posted a 16% surge in sales, Maria Levitov reported for Bloomberg.
Looking ahead, Hyundai is making inroads into the luxury car brand with its new Genesis premium car brand as a way to target high-end motorists and reverse sliding profits, Reuters reported. The $3.2 billion EWY allocates 21.5% of its weight to the giant South Korean conglomerate Samsung, meaning the ETF has hefty 36.3% weight to the technology sector.
“EWY is down 16% overall from its high at 62.93 in April, due to a strong U.S. dollar, the devaluation of the Chinese yuan, and the crash in equity prices in China this past summer. Fundamentally, however, the Korean economy itself has not remarkably declined in a way that justifies the 16% decline in EWY’s price since July 2014. This has created a solid entry point for investors looking for strong growth potential over the mid-term,” according to a Seeking Alpha analysis of EWY.
Higher dividend payouts and stock split are encouraging some investors. Korean companies are facing increased pressure from the government to raise dividends, which are among the lowest of any large economy in Asia. However, with Samsung shares tumbling, shareholder rewards probably are not enough to stoke significant interest in South Korean stocks in the near-term. [Samsung Weighs on South Korea ETFs]
The low energy prices and cheap financing have also supported investor sentiment and positive outlook for earnings growth ahead. South Korea is a net energy importer, implying that it is one of the emerging markets that should be benefiting from low energy prices.
iShares MSCI South Korea 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.