Smaller Than Apple, But Poland's Still Cool (AAPL, EPOL, PLND)
One of the many interesting factoids surrounding everyone's favorite stock, that being Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), today is that with a market value of over $500 billion, the company is now larger than the gross domestic product of Poland.
Well, that depends on what estimate one chooses to acknowledge as most accurate. Estimates for Poland's 2011 GDP from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank indicate Apple is indeed bigger than the emerging Europe country. The CIA's World Fact Book estimate for Poland's 2011 GDP is larger than Apple's market cap...for the moment.
Poland is in good company though. Using the CIA's estimates, Apple is larger than the economies of Argentina, Austria, South Africa and Taiwan, just to name a few.
Both of those ETFs were punished in 2011 as both were hit by the double whammy of being emerging markets funds and Poland's proximity to Europe's sovereign debt woes. Yes, Poland is a member of the European Union, but the country does not use the euro.
What's interesting about both ETFs is that they have been stellar performers year-to-date AND have the potential to extend those rallies. Before the start of trading today, EPOL was up 23.2% to start 2012 while PLND wasn't far behind at 23.1%.
Despite those big gains, both funds still labor below their 200-day moving averages, indicating that if and when that important technical hurdle is cleared, there could be more upside in store. On average, EPOL and PLND are more than 30% below their 52-week highs.
There's also a fundamental argument to be made for Poland and the corresponding ETFs in 2012. Poland and Ukraine will jointly host the UEFA EURO 2012 soccer championships. In fact, the tournament kicks off in Warsaw 100 days from today.
Today, the European Commission forecast Polish GDP growth of 2.5% this year and while that rate lacks an emerging markets feel, it's still the highest projected growth number for any of the EU's 27 member nations. “Investment spending growth is expected to remain robust, supported by accelerating private investment. The corporate sector is likely to continue to increase capacity, financed by intensifying inflows of foreign capital, retained earnings and growing corporate credit," the Commission said, according to Bloomberg.
At the end of the day, any country being smaller than Apple is nothing more than an answer to a trivia question and useful anecdote for journalists. In the case of EPOL and PLND, the more relevant comparison is against other emerging markets and Europe ETFs. On that basis, the Poland ETF duo has outperformed the Vanguard MSCI Europe ETF (NYSE: VGK) and the Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSE: VWO) thus far in 2012.
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