Escaping Europe's Escapades In The Garden of EDEN
Did you know that until last week there was no ETF tracking Denmark on the market? And did you know that until the debut of the iShares MSCI Denmark Capped Investable Market Index Fund (BATS:EDEN) on the BATS Exchange last Thursday that Denmark was the third-largest economy in the world not represented by its own U.S. -listed ETF?
Saudi Arabia and Iran are the economies bigger than Denmark's that are still without their own ETFs. Prior to the debut of the iShares MSCI Denmark Capped Investable Market Index Fund, the best way for investors to get Denmark exposure was through the Global X FTSE Nordic Region ETF (NYSE: GXF), which allocates almost 19% of its weight to Denmark.
Now, investors can tap Denmark, the 31st largest economy in the world, with EDEN. With an expense ratio of 0.53%, EDEN is home to 31 stocks and the ETF has already attracted $2.62 million in assets under management, perhaps underscoring the notion investors still want some exposure to Europe. They just prefer to get there with a more Nordic/less PIIGS approach.
At the sector level, EDEN is not diverse as three groups – health care, industrials and financials – account for 78% of the fund's weight. Health care name dominate with an allocation of 35%. Consumer staples, materials, telecom and technology combine for over 20%.
Danish pharma giant Novo Nordisk A/S (NYSE: NVO) is EDEN's largest individual holding at 22.4% of the ETF's weight. While the rest of EDEN's lineup may not ring many bells with U.S. investors, there is validity to the Danish investment thesis. Noteworthy is the fact that Denmark's public debt load will reach 44.6 percent of the economy this year, compared with an average of 90.4 percent in the 17-member euro region, Bloomberg reported, citing the European Commission.
However, Denmark's unemployment situation isn't as rosy as some of its Nordic neighbors. As of November 2011, Danish unemployment stood at 7.8%, well above the long-term average of 6.12%, according to Y Charts.
The MSCI Denmark index lost 16.9% in the past 12 months. Its average annual return was 16.0%, -0.66% and 10.6% over the past three, five and 10 years, according to MSCI, Investor's Business Daily reported. However, EDEN tracks the MSCI Denmark IMI 25/50 Index and the iShares Web site currently features no historical data for this index.
The upside is the Scandinavian countries are beacons of fiscal strength on a continent submerged in a sovereign debt crisis of epic proportions. Put another way, EDEN is probably a better bet right now than say the iShares MSCI Spain Index Fund (NYSE: EWP), but it may not be quite as good as the Global X FTSE Nordic Region ETF, iShares MSCI Sweden Index Fund (NYSE: EWD) or either of the two Norway ETFs now on the market.
Of course, if the news remains less bad out of Europe, that rising tide could lift the sails of EDEN, making the ETF a way to bet on a Euro Zone recovery without actually having to dance in the Euro Zone.
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