Currency Peg and AAA Rating Make This ETF a 'Garden of Eden'
In biblical parlance, a rough interpretation of the Garden of Eden is that it is a highly desirable place to be. For investors looking for long exposure to Europe, finding such a destination can be difficult. Difficult, though not impossible and one small ETF has the potential to prove durable as investors are again fretting over negative eurozone headlines.
With just $3.5 million in assets under management and average daily volume of less than 11,000 shares, the iShares MSCI Denmark Capped Investable Market Index Fund (BATS: EDEN) is the type of ETF critics who put a lot of stock in superficial metrics such as assets and volume would tell investors to stay away from.
Focusing on baseball card-type of statistics rather than what is really important with Denmark could steer investors away from a solid Nordic opportunity. While other Nordic ETFs, both diversified and country-specific plays, have proven durable amid the eurozone's ongoing woes, EDEN has an unheralded advantage over its Norwegian and Swedish peers.
That being the peg the Danish krone has to the euro. On the other hand, the Swedish krona and Norwegian krone are not pegged to the euro and as investors have looked for ways non-euro European currencies, Norway and Sweden have been two of their favorite stopping points.
Since the height of the financial crisis in 2009, Sweden's currency has surged 39 percent against the euro while the Norwegian krone has gained 18 percent, according to Bloomberg. Those strong currencies threaten trade competitiveness and export-related jobs in Norway and Sweden. Due to its euro peg, Denmark has no such problems.
Denmark's krone/euro peg is not new. It has been around since the common currency was born in 1999, but Denmark is not only benefiting against the euro. The country is arguably irking its Nordic rivals, too. Since the end of 2012, Denmark's krone has lost 2.5 percent against the krona. It's down 0.7 percent against Norway's krone, Bloomberg reported.
While the currency issue has in part contributed to EDEN's 18 percent ascent over the past year, that is not only the reason to consider the ETF. Over the same time, EDEN has sharply outpaced the iShares MSCI Norway Capped Investable Market Index Fund (BATS: ENOR) and the iShares MSCI Sweden Index Fund (NYSE: EWD). EWD, the largest and most heavily traded ETF tracking a Nordic nation, has trailed EDEN by more than 500 basis points over the past year.
Another reason to consider EDEN is that Denmark, like Norway and Sweden, is among the dwindling number of countries with the prestigious AAA credit rating. France, the U.S. and the U.K., among others, can no long say the same.
While investors, even the pros, have touted the virtues of U.S. stocks and the leadership role those shares have played among global equity markets, EDEN has been in better. Over the past 90 days, EDEN has outperformed the SPDR S&P 500 (NYSE: SPY) by about 500 basis points.
Additionally, it should be noted that Denmark has negative interest rates, a concept the central bank there introduced last year, but Nationalbank has not engaged in Federal Reserve-style asset buying. As much as fans of quantitative easing may not want to believe, select develop markets have seen impressive equity market appreciation without QE. Denmark is one such nation.
Bottom line: A favorable currency situation, an AAA rating and solid equity prices without QE combine to make EDEN a compelling ETF idea for those looking for Europe exposure without heading to the eurozone.
For on AAA-rated nations, click here.
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