The currency-hedged ETFs outperform non-hedged funds when the local currency depreciates against the U.S. dollar, but these funds have been underperforming as the JPY surged against the USD this year. The improving health of Japanese companies is, obviously, another catalyst for ETFs like HEWJ.

“Historically, one of the many challenges facing Japan was a relatively unprofitable corporate sector. That is in the process of changing. Improving corporate governance coupled with Japan’s own buyback trend has pushed the notoriously low return-on-equity (ROE) up to around 7%. While still low by U.S. standards—partly a reflection of a multi-decade deleveraging by Japanese corporations—this is well above the 20-year average of 4%,” adds BlackRock.

ETF investors may also look to some relatively new dynamic or adaptive currency-hedged international stock strategies. For instance, BlackRock offers the iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI Japan ETF (BATS: DEWJ), which may shift from a 0% unhedged currency exposure to a 100% fully hedged, depending on differences in interest rates, relative valuations, currency momentum and currency volatility.

HEWJ allocates 41% of its combined weight to consumer discretionary and industrial stocks.

For more information on the Japanese markets, visit our Japan category.

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