Emerging markets present an enticing opportunity for the investor in search of a growth play. With so much room to grow, the economies of countries like India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and even China present opportunities for big returns…and big losses. However, for those willing to ride the volatility that comes with less-familiar, less-established companies in growing economies, the major growth potential is more than worthwhile.
However, investing in emerging market equities can be tricky. The phrase emerging markets itself is fraught with difficulty, connoting a situation that many of the initial emerging markets (the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have grown out of. However, these economies still present an intriguing investment opportunity different from more traditional plays in the United States or Western Europe.
Researching individual companies in places like Thailand is difficult and dicey at best. As such, many people looking to bet on the long-term success of these countries’ native companies without backing any single horse turn to ETFs that track equities in those economies. This way, they can make a broader, less-volatile growth play that still gives them a chance to profit if the vitality they’re expecting materializes. Here’s a look at four of the most popular emerging market ETFs and their make-up.
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM)
YTD Performance: -2.98 percent
The highest-volume emerging market ETF is the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM) . It’s designed to track the MSCI Emerging Market Index, which is comprised of 2,600 different small-, mid-, and large-cap securities in 21 different markets. Its biggest holdings are Samsung (SSNLF) at 3.88 percent of its portfolio, Taiwan Semiconductor ($TSM) at 2.29 percent of holdings, and China Mobile Ltd. (CHL) at 1.69 percent of holdings. However, the plurality of stocks in the holding, some 27 percent, are in the financial sector.
WisdomTree India Earnings Fund ($EPI)
YTD Performance: -14.51 percent
Indian equities are a popular play, and the India ETF that’s most heavily traded on average is the WisdomTree India Earnings Fund ($EPI). It tracks the WisdomTree India Earnings Index, a fundamentally-weighted index made up of Indian companies. Its biggest holdings, by far, are Reliance Industries Ltd. ($RELIANCE) at 9.33 percent of its portfolio and Infosys (INFY) with 8.14 percent.
iShares MSCI Malaysia ETF (EWM)
YTD Performance: 5.72 percent
The iShares MSCI Malaysia ETF (EWM) tracks the MSCI Malaysia Index. It’s built from mid- to large-cap Malaysian companies, with Malayan Banking Berhad (MLYBY) and CIMB Group Holdings (CIMDF) making up its largest holdings at 9.42 percent and 7.44 percent of its holdings respectively.
Market Vector Russia ETF Trust ($RSX)
YTD Performance: -1.24 percent
Calling Russia an emerging market could clearly raise some eyebrows at this point, but as an original BRICS country it’s technically still in the running. The Market Vectors Russia ETF Trust ($RSX) tracks the Market Vectors Russia Index and holds stock in 49 different Russian companies including Sberbank of Russia Federation (SBRCY) , Gazprom (OGZPY) , and Lukoil ($LUKOY).