The VanEck Vectors Vietnam ETF (NYSEArca: VNM) is a disappointment among emerging and frontier markets exchange traded funds this year. Down nearly 14% year-to-date, the lone Vietnam is almost 20% below its 52-week high and nearly 12% below its 200-day moving average.
As has been the case with other emerging markets ETFs, VNM has languished in the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning victory in last month’s U.S. presidential election. While Vietnam is a communist country, the government has steered toward a quasi-free market economy that is strictly controlled by the state.
Despite the struggles of Vietnamese stocks this year, some investors remain optimistic on the Southeast Asian economy. However, stocks there are slightly pricey relative to regional benchmarks.
“The benchmark VN Index is trading 15.9 times earnings, compared with the MSCI South East Asia Index which is at 14.7. A 15 percent gain in the VN Index has led to its outperformance versus the MSCI Frontier Markets Index and the South East Asia benchmark gauge,” reports Bloomberg.
Hanoi is setting a stronger tone to support private businesses over the next five years, Bloomberg reports. Vietnam’s 2016 to 2020 economic blueprint will create “favorable conditions” to support private companies.
Vietnam’s congress is also expected to set an outline for economic reforms and growth. For example, the proposed socioeconomic plan through 2020 show economic growth could expand as much as an average 7% annually, with gross domestic product per capita of $3,200 to $3,500 by 2020, compared to current International Monetary Fund’s estimates of about $2,170.
“Economists predict Vietnam will be among the world’s fastest-growing economies in 2016 as it benefits from a manufacturing industry that has grown in importance over the years. Increased foreign-direct investment helped push the VN Index to an eight-year high of 688.89 on Oct. 19. The government aims for GDP growth of 6.7 percent next year, which will be the fastest pace since 2007,” according to Bloomberg.
VNM, home to $256.6 million in assets, holds 34 stocks. Financial services and consumer staples stocks combine for 45.6% of the ETF’s weight.