Today, much of the world’s economic growth is outside of the U.S. So for now at least, many (and maybe most) of the compelling investment opportunities are outside the U.S., too.
But for years, Americans had a hard time gaining access to the smaller international markets. Try to buy a stock from, say, Jakarta, and most stockbrokers would hang up the phone! Opportunities in those places were available only to a select few investors.
Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are solving this problem. Now you can diversify your portfolio into many hot, new markets with one simple trade on a U.S. exchange.
Let’s take a look at five, recently-launched international ETFs that can help you get off the beaten path …
International Opportunity #1:
Market Vectors Vietnam (VNM)
Vietnam was a closed society for many years following the communist takeover. Now, much like China, it’s turning capitalist with a vengeance.
|Vietnam is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.|
With a young population, a strategic location, and abundant natural resources, Vietnam is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The country exports rice, oil, cashew nuts, and black pepper. Privately owned businesses are thriving! And the industrial sector is growing fast.
VNM gives you a slice of the local stock market, including financial, energy, industrial, and consumer companies. Risky? Yes, but the opportunities are huge as nearby China takes its place as a world economic superpower.
International Opportunity #2:
Market Vectors Indonesia (IDX)
You might think that a country with the fourth-largest population in the world would be a little better known. Strangely, though, Indonesia isn’t on the radar screen for most U.S. investors. It should be …
With more than 17,000 separate islands, the Indonesian archipelago straddles trade routes that have been important for centuries. And its many ethnic groups are united by a common language.
Like Vietnam, Indonesia has a wealth of natural resources, including oil, natural gas, gold, copper, and a huge variety of agricultural goods. The vibrant internal market makes the country less dependent on exports than many Asian markets. In fact, Indonesia’s service sector is larger than its industrial and agricultural counterparts.
With IDX, you can buy into the Indonesia growth story quickly and easily. This ETF includes banks, telecom, energy, materials, and industrial stocks.
International Opportunity #3:
iShares MSCI Peru (EPU)
|Peru’s Machu Picchu was once a great Inca city.|
Peru has some of the most varied terrain in the world — snow-capped Andes peaks, Amazonian jungles, coastal plains. And back before Columbus came along, Peru’s Inca were the largest civilization in the New World.
Today Peru is a top metals producer. And EPU makes the most of that by investing heavily in companies that mine gold, copper, and other metals. What’s more, the government is working hard to diversify the economy, and it’s making good progress. A 2006 free trade agreement with the U.S. was a major step.
When metals prices are rising, Peruvian markets tend to do well. EPU is a great tool to take advantage of those opportunities.
International Opportunity #4:
Global X InterBolsa FTSE Colombia 20 (GXG)
Just north of Peru is Colombia, where ethnic diversity has produced a rich cultural heritage. It’s a country with plenty of risks — and enormous potential rewards.
|Coffee is one of Colombia’s top exports.|
President Alvaro Uribe and his government have made big steps in subduing Colombia’s illegal drug trade, expanding the economy, and strengthening relations with the U.S. and other trading partners. The result: One of the fastest economic growth rates in Latin America.
GXG is a concentrated portfolio of mostly financial and energy stocks. Like all emerging markets ETFs, I expect a lot of volatility in GXG, but I also see a lot of potential. And although Colombia is booming, it still has plenty of room to grow.
International Opportunity #5:
Global X FTSE Nordic 30 ETF (GXF)
The funds discussed above all cover a single country. But GXF is different in that it focuses on a region: The Nordic nations of northern Europe including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland.
In contrast with Colombia, these Nordic nations are among the most stable in the world. The population is educated, multilingual, and prosperous. Are there challenges? Of course, but you can’t argue with results. And the results of the Nordic stock markets have been impressive indeed.
GXF includes 30 companies from the region, with Sweden having the most weight at almost half the portfolio. The stocks in GXF do business around the world. So if you want both growth and stability, this ETF might be just what you need.
These five new ETFs give you tremendous opportunities for profit that you can’t find in regular mutual funds. They’re even more proof that ETFs are revolutionizing the way we invest.
However, let me close today with a word of caution: Single-country international ETFs are always risky. And because they’re relatively new, trading volume can be rather thin. If you buy any of these funds, pick your entry point carefully, use a limit order, and be prepared to ride out some big swings. Also, don’t invest too much of your portfolio in one place.
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