ETFs For The European Championship (EWI, GERJ, EPOL)
These are good days to be a football fan and by football we don't mean the American variety. We're talking soccer. The 2012 UEFA Champions League final between Chelsea of the English Premier and Bayern Munich of Germany's Bundesliga kicks off on May 19 in Germany.
Just a few weeks after that, the UEFA EURO Finals commence. Played in the even numbered years in which the World Cup is not played, the UEFA EURO Finals is akin to a World Cup for European nations. This year, the event will be dually hosted by Poland and Ukraine.
While it may seem like a bunch of baloney, but legitimate studies have proven that when a country's soccer team loses in international competition the next day's action for that country's stock market is usually pretty glum.
"For example, a loss in the World Cup elimination stage leads to a next-day abnormal stock return of -49 basis points. This loss effect is stronger in small stocks and in more important games," according to the study "Sports Sentiment and Stock Returns."
Granted, that study looked more at World Cup matches, but the results could prove to be similar during the UEFA EURO Finals. With that, here are some ETFs to put on your trading radar during the competition, which starts on Friday June 8.
iShares MSCI Poland Investable Market Index Fund (NYSE: EPOL) Or the rival Market Vectors Poland ETF (NYSE: PLND). Both funds are up more than 16% year-to-date with a slight advantage going to the Market Vectors offering, though it should be noted EPOL's yield is more than 100 basis points higher than PLND's.
The thesis here is that host nations for international sporting competitions often gain short-term economic benefits. It's something that has been seen time and time again with the Olympics and the World Cup, so it won't be surprising to see Poland post a nice second-quarter GDP number. Then again, the potential for disappointment exists because host nation status may already be priced into EPOL and PLND. There is no Ukraine ETF, though Global X has filed plans for one.
iShares MSCI Spain Index Fund (NYSE: EWP) Spain won the 2008 UEFA EURO title in stellar fashion, not losing a single match on its way to its second title in the competition and first since 1964. EWP didn't benefit back then because the global financial crisis was ramping up, but things have gotten worse, not better for EWP.
Spain recently said it's in a recession. Not exactly surprising. The country's is home to the Euro Zone's worst unemployment rate and EWP yields in the double-digits. Making EWP a dangerous long side play on the UEFA EURO Finals is this fact: The odds against Spain repeating as champions are slim.
The competition started in 1960, so the 2012 edition will be the fourteenth version. No nation has ever won consecutive titles in UEFA EURO.
iShares MSCI Italy Index Fund (NYSE: EWI) Oddly enough, Spain and Italy are in the same group meaning they will have to play each other. That will be a battle of blood blue football nations and fiscal problem children. A draw would be appropriate, but Spain are the stronger side and if Italy's 2010 World Cup performance is any indication, the Azzurri may not be ready for UEFA EURO.
Despite Italy's rich World Cup history, the country has only claimed the European title once, in 1968, and played for the championship one other time, in 2000. We're not betting on June being a good month to be long EWI.
Market Vectors Germany Small-Cap ETF (NYSE: GERJ) Germany is another blue blood soccer nation and was the runner-up in EURO 2008. The Euro Zone's largest economy has a tendency to advance deep into international football tournaments and, let's be honest, Germany is probably pretty tired of having to prop up the rest of the Euro Zone. It can take some of that aggression out on the Netherlands and Portugal in group play.
Rather than betting on the iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund (NYSE: EWG), give GERJ a look. The small-cap fund's lack of volume and AUM belies its most important trait: performance. As in EWG has come nowhere close to competing with GERJ this year.
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