There are two perspectives that investors may use to assess emerging markets. In the first view, the easy-money policies of central banks are buoying the share prices of publicly traded companies and enhancing the returns for investors in emerging markets. An alternative view is that increasingly wealthy and better-educated populations are driving increased domestic demand and productivity. Both of these perspectives point to a key benefit of investing in emerging markets: they are not highly correlated with investments in developed economies and thereby present a true opportunity for diversification. If you seek diversification in your portfolio, take a look at Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index ETF (VWO).
VWO seeks to track, before fees and expenses, the performance of a benchmark index of stocks issued by companies located in emerging-market countries. In addition, VWO offers reduced risk by investing in the various public companies included in the index that it models.
The fund has gained 4.35% this year, recovering from pullbacks in February and March. Its yield is 2.77%. VWO is currently trending well above its 50-day and 200-day moving averages, just as it has been doing since April, as the following chart shows.
The fund is heavily diversified in terms of its holdings. The top 10 holdings make up only 16% of the portfolio. VWO’s top five holdings, in terms of individual stocks, are Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., 2.8%; Tencent Holdings Ltd., 1.9%; Petroleo Brasileiro SA, 1.7%; China Construction Bank Corp., 1.6%; and China Mobile Ltd., 1.4%.
The fund is more concentrated by sector and country. The top sector holdings are financial services, 27.36%; technology, 13.13%; basic materials, 9.95%; communication services, 9.94%; energy, 9.79%; and consumer defensive, 8.63%. VWO’s top holdings by country are China, 20.7%; Taiwan, 13.8%; Brazil, 13.0%; and India, 10.6%.
The emerging-market story that may ring most true is the one where expanding markets of young people, newly affluent when compared to their parents, are buying goods from the rest of the world and growing domestic markets at home. We see this situation in China, in Vietnam, in Nigeria, in Mexico and throughout the emerging-market world. It is very similar to the American story of the 19th and early 20th centuries. One way to invest in that growth story is through an emerging-market ETF such as Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index ETF (VWO).
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In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my article from last week about how to invest in Brazil, host of the World Cup. I also invite you to share your thoughts below.