While United Kingdom stocks rebounded Wednesday after the no-deal vote, the country-related ETFs remain depressed with lingering concerns weighing on the market.
The iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF (NYSEArca: EWU), the largest U.K.-related ETF, was up 1.2% Wednesday and gained 10.8% year-to-date.
Nevertheless, the big unknown with just over two weeks until a deadline for the U.K. to leave the European Union continues to weigh on sentiment.
“When you get into markets less impacted by quantitative easing you see more of an impact [from Brexit],” Jon Jonsson, a global bond investor at Neuberger Berman, told the Wall Street Journal. “I avoid U.K. assets because there’s a lot of uncertainty and it’s very hard to have confidence in what scenario is more likely.”
The decline in foreign investment demand has also dragged on U.K. assets.
“There’s been a shift in how investors from other countries view risk in the sterling market,” Jonathan Pitkanen, head of investment-grade fixed-income research at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, told the WSJ.
After taking out the currency swings associated with the weaker British pound sterling currency, U.K. stocks reveal a long-term underperformance. In U.S. dollar terms, the FTSE 350 benchmark is trading around the same level it did at the start of 2016, whereas the S&P 500 surged 34% and the Euro Stoxx gained 8%. EWU also shows an average annualized return of -0.1% over the past five years, compared to the S&P 500’s 10.6% average gain over the period.
Investors, though, may now pay less for the stocks in the U.K. than they did three years ago. Looking at predicted earnings, shares declined ahead of the referendum and have traded at lower multiples to U.S. stocks ever since the initial breakup vote. EWU is also trading at around a 12.7 price-to-earnings and a 1.3 price-to-book, compared to the S&P 500’s 16.2 P/E and 2.8 P/B.
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