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Update: UBS ETF – MSCI EMU UCITS ETF

Dieser ETF bietet einen deutlich diversifizierteren Zugang zu Euro-Aktien als ETFs auf den weitaus bekannteren Euro STOXX 50 Index. Frankreich und Deutschland dominieren auf Länderebene. Finanztitel stellen die gewichtigste Branche dar. 

Kenneth Lamont 04.09.2015

Rolle im Portfolio

 

The fund offers broad-basket equity exposure to large and mid-cap companies domiciled within the European Monetary Union (EMU).

Due to its broad sector and geographic equity exposure, this ETF can be utilised as a core holding in a diversified portfolio.

The exclusion of non-EMU stocks from the benchmark index – most prominently UK and Swiss stocks - increases its geographic sector concentration compared to broader European indices such as the STOXX Europe 600. More specifically, the MSCI EMU overweights consumer discretionary, and underweights consumer staples and healthcare compared to the STOXX Europe 600. Despite these differences in country and sector exposure, the two indices have maintained nearly perfect positive correlation over the past 15 years (~0.99). Over the same timeframe, the MSCI EMU index has also exhibited a high historical correlation (~0.94) with the MSCI World index.

 

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Fundamentale Analyse

 

Investors in Eurozone equities have a lot to thank the European Central Bank (ECB) for since the 2011-12 sovereign debt crisis which threatened to break up the Monetary Union. The MSCI EMU index has risen more than 70% since Draghi’s pledge in mid-2012 to “do whatever it takes” to preserve the euro. As of this writing, the MSCI EMU hovers below its 2007 pre-crisis highs.

The unprecedented quantitative easing (QE) programme unveiled by the ECB in January 2015 has given investors fresh reason to be optimistic about the region. The programme involves the buying of 60bn Euros of government bonds on a monthly basis until, at the earliest, September 2016. Full blown QE represents the latest, and most dramatic in a series of economic stimulus measures introduced by the ECB, including earlier asset buying initiatives (e.g. covered bonds) and successive interest rate cuts which have left lending rates hugging the zero bound. Such an enormous and sustained stimulus package, in conjunction with a falling euro and low energy prices, can be expected to boost price levels and stimulate growth.

In spite of a more positive domestic macro outlook, downside risks to Eurozone equity valuations remain. The potential for significant political tensions within the monetary union has resurfaced with the election of Syriza in Greece, who swept to power on an anti-austerity, debt-forgiveness ticket. The spectre of a ‘Grexit’ refuses to recede, and the resultant uncertainty continues to blight the Eurozone. This said, the risks of contagion within the monetary union appear to have subsided for the time being.

 

Elsewhere, although there have been signs of progress, the lack of wide-ranging structural reforms in countries like France and Italy remains a concern too. Fiscal discipline and relaxation of labour laws in these two countries are deemed essential if the ECB’s ultra-loose monetary policy is to be fully effective.

All this said; it should not be forgotten that a large portion of the MSCI EMU index are predominantly large, stable, high-quality companies which do a large amount of business internationally. Some of the largest index components are companies with a large presence in emerging markets -- Latin America in the case of Banco Santander, and Asia in the case of Unilever. These multinationals fortunes will be tied – at least in part - to those of emerging markets.

 

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Indexkonstruktion

The MSCI EMU Index includes about 240 stocks representing approximately 85% of the free-float adjusted market capitalisation of all publicly-traded companies based in European Monetary Union countries. Eligible securities are weighed by free-float adjusted market capitalisation. The index is reviewed quarterly, with May and November semi-annual reviews tending to be more comprehensive than those undertaken in February and August. French and German equities make up 60-65% of the index by value. The top sector weighting is financial services (~23%) followed by industrials (~14%), consumer discretionary (~13%), and consumer staples (~10%). French oil and gas giant Total and chemical and pharmaceutical multi-nationals Bayer and Sanofi are the three largest index constituents, each maintaining around 3% of weighting.

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Fondskonstruktion

The fund uses full physical replication to track the performance of the MSCI EMU Net Return index. It achieves this by holding all index constituents in their prescribed weights. The ETF engages in securities lending, which serves to generate additional revenue. The net return to the fund was 0.08% for the last 12 months to beginning of August 2015. Over this period, the maximum percentage lent for this fund was 19.06%, while the average on-loan level was 14.54%. The gross lending revenue generated can partially offset the TER, and is split 60/40 between the ETF and State Street Bank GmbH, who acts as lending agent, respectively. To protect the fund from the counterparty risk that results from this practice, borrowers are requested to post collateral of between 105% and 115% of loan value, depending on the assets provided. Acceptable collateral includes securities issued by G-10 countries (except Japan and Italy) and Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway and New Zealand, and world equities. State Street also provides borrower default indemnification in the event that a borrower is unable to return the securities. The fund distributes dividends semi-annually, in February and August.

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Gebühren

At 0.23%, the fund charges the lowest total expense ratio (TER) of all the ETFs tracking the MSCI EMU Index. Moreover, the positive annual tracking difference (fund return – index return) since 2011 suggests that the TER is fully offset by revenues generated from efficient portfolio management techniques (e.g. securities lending) and through the use of tax optimisation (the fund enjoys a better withholding tax rate than the index). Additionally, ETF investors will typically be charged trading costs, including bid-offer spreads and brokerage commissions, when buy and sell orders are placed for ETF shares.

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Alternativen

There is no shortage of alternative MSCI EMU ETFs offered by providers such as iShares, Amundi, Lyxor, SPDR and ComStage.

Currently, of all the funds tracking the MSCI EMU Index, the UBS fund charges the lowest management fee (TER of 0.23%) and is the most popular, as measured by assets under management.

Additionally, based on annualised tracking differences since 2011, it appears to offer one of the highest relative outperformance --note that all European-domiciled MSCI EMU ETFs outperform the MSCI EMU net return index thanks to securities lending and tax optimisation.

Investors seeking an accumulating alternative may consider the physically replicated iShares MSCI EMU ETF (TER of 0.33%), which has also produced an impressive tracking difference annually over the trailing three year period.

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Über den Autor

Kenneth Lamont  ist Fondsanalyst bei Morningstar.