ETF Trends
ETF Trends

Exchange traded fund investors began to diversify their investment portfolios in May, increasing their positions in international markets, notably with a focus on European equity exposure.

Among the most popular ETF plays of May, developed market and European equities were favored picks. The most sought after play was the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (NYSEArca: EFA), which tracks the developed EAFE or European, Australasia and Far East countries, as investors funneled a little over $4.0 billion into the developed market play, according to XTF data.

Similarly, other ETFs that target EAFE countries also attract heavy inflows over May, with the iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF (NYSEArca: IEFA) bringing in $1.9 billion in net inflows and the Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VEA) adding $1.8 billion.

ETF investors also threw $1.8 billion into both the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (NYSEArca: VGK), the largest dedicated Europe ETF trading in the U.S., and the iShares MSCI EMU ETF (NYSEArca: EZU), an ETF that tracks countries in the European Monetary Union or Eurozone, which excludes United Kingdom and Switzerland country exposure found in VGK.

The hefty emphasis on European equities suggests that investors may have looked to developed market or EAFE ETF options as a broader play to diversify investment risks as the broader EAFE ETFs include over 60% portfolio weights toward greater Europe.

Many money managers, hedge funds and institutional-size investors have shown greater interest in international markets. At the recent SALT Conference in Las Vegas, hedge fund speakers pointed to European equities for their attractive valuations and as a means to diversify away from American equities, especially in light of recent misgivings with President Donald Trump’s ability to push through his pro-growth agenda. Moreover, Europe is enjoying improving economic and earnings growth and offers more attractive yield opportunities than the income generated here at home.

For example, EZU shows a 2.58% 12-month yield, a 15.8 price-to-earnings and a 1.6 price-to-book, compared to the S&P 500’s 1.9% 12-month yield, 19.7 P/E and a 2.8 P/B.

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.