4 Global Style ETFs Your Broker Forgot to Mention
As the exchange-traded products industry has continued to boom (there are now almost 1,460 ETFs and ETNs listed in the U.S. with over $1.2 trillion in AUM), the number of so-called style funds has surged as well.
By definition, a style ETF is one that focuses on value or growth stocks, large-, mid- or small-caps or a blend of the various traits we just mentioned. Well-known examples include the $3.8 billion iShares Russell 2000 Growth Index Fund (NYSE: IWO) and the SPDR S&P 500 Growth ETF (NYSE: SPYG), which has almost $230 million in AUM.
Obviously, those are domestic funds. There are plenty of global style funds that may not command a lot of headlines, but are worthy of investors' attention. Here are some your broker probably neglected to tell you about.
WisdomTree International MidCap Dividend Fund (NYSE: DIM) DIM is the epitome of a style play, rolling dividend-paying global mid-caps into one fund. DIM may not get a lot of attention, but the fund is almost six-years old and has nearly $103 million in AUM. Up more than 8% year-to-date, DIM does have some issues to consider before jumping.
First, industrials, financials and consumer discretionary names account for over 58% of the fund's weight. Second, Japan and the U.K. combine for over 40% of the DIM's country weight. Third, the rest of DIM's country allocations include nine Euro Zone members and all of the PIIGS except Greece. On second thought, maybe it's not a bad thing that DIM has been somewhat anonymous up to this point.
iShares MSCI EAFE Small Cap Index Fund (NYSE: SCZ) Proper style ETFs have specific niches, whether be small-cap value, large-cap growth, etc. That's the case with SCZ, which obviously focuses on EAFE small-caps. As we recently noted, the EAFE investment theme has its merits, but not all of these ETFs make the grade.
Considering that SCZ will celebrate its fifth birthday later this year and that it's home to nearly $1.5 billion in AUM, the ETF doesn't garner much press. However, a 13% year-to-date gain is solid when acknowledging more than 48% of SCZ's weight goes to Japan and the U.K.
That creates an interesting situation going forward for SCZ. Will global investors view Japanese and U.K. small-caps as value opportunities or will the macro headwinds facing both nations chase investors to other global markets? How that question is answered will figure prominently in SCZ's 2012 performance.
iShares MSCI EAFE Growth Index Fund (NYSE: EFG) This is another prime example of EAFE style that has been around a while (almost seven years), is large ($1.2 billion in AUM) and doesn't grab much press. EFG does share something in common with many of U.S.-focused ETFs that claim to be growth funds: Allocations that are heavy on sectors that extremely short on growth stocks.
EFG is up more than 10% year-to-date, but it's hard to get a growth feeling from a fund with an almost 20% allocation to staples stocks. Many of EFG's 555 holdings are high-quality, blue-chip names and legitimate bull cases can be made for top-10 holdings such as Nestle (PK: NSRGY) and BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP), but those aren't really growth stocks.
First Trust Developed Markets Ex-US Small Cap AlphaDEX Fund (NYSE: FDTS) Not even three months old yet, FDTS is truly an under-the-radar global style ETF at this point. FDTS tracks the Defined Developed Markets Ex-US Small Cap Index, which on growth factors including 3-, 6- and 12-month price appreciation, sales to price and one year sales growth, and separately on value factors including book value to price, cash flow to price and return on assets, according to First Trust.
The top 400 make the cut (FDTS is home to 406 names right now) are divided into quintiles based on their rankings and the top ranked quintiles receive a higher weight within the index. Japan and South Korea combine for over half of this ETF's country weight and FDTS is fairly diverse at the sector leve with four sectors – discretionary, industrials, materials and financials – receiving double-digit allocations.
All of those points may be moot until FDTS starts trading on a regular basis. The idea here is nifty, but FDTS hasn't traded in nearly a month.
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