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Update: db x-trackers MSCI World Index UCITS ETF

Aktiv verwaltete Aktienfonds haben gegenüber ETFs auf den MSCI World in der Regel das Nachsehen. Anleger sollten indes den sehr hohen USA-Anteil in diesem global investierenden Aktienprodukt beachten.

Rolle im Portfolio

The UBS ETF MSCI World UCITS exchange-traded fund provides exposure to many of the largest publicly traded companies in the world. The MSCI World Index, a widely used barometer for the global equity market, includes stocks from developed countries but excludes emerging-markets countries.

Given its broad exposure, the fund can be used as a long-term core holding in a portfolio. Although the MSCI World Index is broad in geographic scope, the United States accounts for almost 60% of total portfolio allocation. Pairing this ETF with another U.S. equity fund may result in significant overlap, but combining it with an emerging-markets fund instead will lead to greater portfolio diversification.

The next biggest countries represented are Japan and the United Kingdom, weighing 7%-10% each. Top sectors include financials, information technology, and consumer discretionary.

This ETF pays dividends semiannually and may suit income-seeking investors.

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Fundamentale Analyse

The short- to medium-term global outlook is dividing between improving advanced economies and contracting emerging markets. The prevailing forces--monetary policy, commodity prices, and inflation--continue to drive macroeconomic trends as well as global equity prices.

In response to the financial crisis, central banks in many developed economies carried out quantitative easing to increase bank lending, boost investment spending, and avert deflation. While quantitative easing has provided well-needed support to the global economy, it has also boosted equity valuations.

The situation is about to change. Global monetary policy is now diverging, and long-term interest rates are widening. The U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England are looking to increase interest rates, although the exact timing is uncertain. Alternatively, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan have signalled the possibility of increasing stimulus because of continuing deflationary pressure caused by declining commodity prices.

Oil prices fell by approximately 50% since mid-2014 because of lower demand--notably from China--and greater supply. The oil slump has caused a redistribution of income from oil-exporting countries like Brazil and Russia to oil-importing ones like the U.S. and Europe.

Monetary policy and headwinds from China will continue to steer the G10 currency pairs. By increasing the money supply, quantitative easing has devalued the Japanese yen and the euro relative to the dollar. In August, in an effort to bolster its growth, China devalued its currency, triggering panic in financial markets. On Aug 25, the MSCI World Index declined by approximately 10% from the week before.

Geo-political risks in emerging markets, notably Latin America, Russia, and the Middle East, continue to threaten international trade and contribute to market volatility. In the euro area and Japan, elevated public debt and an aging population are ongoing long-term concerns. 

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The MSCI World Net Return Index is a free-float market-capitalisation-weighted index covering 23 developed countries around the world. The index consists of 1,600-plus mid- and large-cap stocks and covers approximately 85% of the total free float-adjusted market capitalisation of each country in the index. The index is reviewed quarterly in February, May, August, and November. It is rebalanced semiannually. The universe is screened for liquidity as measured by trading volume. The U.S. stock market accounts for approximately 55%-60% of total index value and is more than 5 times larger than the next highest representatives, Japan and the United Kingdom, weighting 7%-10% each. France and Switzerland account for 3%-4% each. On a sector basis, the index is broadly diversified. Financials account for 19%-23% of the total allocation, followed by information technology, consumer discretionary, and healthcare at 12%-15% each. Portfolio concentration is limited with the top 10 holdings accounting for less than 10% of the total index value. Top securities include Apple with a 1%-3% weight, followed by Microsoft and Exxon at approximately 1%.

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The ETF uses an optimised sampling technique to try to capture the performance of the MSCI World Net Total Return Index, owning a physical basket of securities designed to match the risk/return characteristics of the underlying index but not necessarily the exact stocks in the exact weights. Routine cash stock dividends are reinvested according to index rules using an “overdraft” facility available from the custodian, State Street Bank. Similar to a credit line, State Street Bank lends the ETF cash to reinvest any receivable dividends on the ex-date. Once the dividend is paid to the underlying stocks, the ETF returns the borrowed cash to State Street Bank. This practice helps reduce tracking error. The fund engages in securities lending to enhance the fund’s performance, lending up to 50% of the securities in its fund. To minimise counterparty risk, UBS carefully selects borrowers, holds collateral in a custody account with its lending agent State Street Bank, and marks the collateral’s value market daily. UBS ETFs are always overcollateralised, and the value of the collateral held is at least 105% of the value of the lent securities. Accepted collateral includes: equities listed on globally recognised indexes (70%-80%) and high-quality government bonds (20%-30%). Collateral must be independent from the counterparty, highly liquid, diversified, and not correlated to the counterparty’s performance. Securities lending exposes the fund to counterparty risk, the possibility that the borrower will not return the securities it borrowed. To manage this risk, UBS takes collateral greater than the total loan value. Over the past 12 months--as of Oct. 14, 2015--the fund lent out 8.21% of its assets under management (on average) with a maximum on-loan of 9.68% and generated a securities-lending return of 0.0312%. UBS discloses daily on its website all key information pertaining to its securities-lending programme.

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The fund has a total expense ratio of 0.30%, which is in the middle of the range for funds offering similar exposure. The range for the tracking difference for the past few years is less than the TER. Additional costs to investors associated with trading the ETF include bid-ask spreads and brokerage fees.

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There are a number of funds that provide exposure to equities from developed markets. Providers offering ETFs that track the MSCI World Index include Lyxor, iShares, db X-trackers, Source, and ComStage. The db X-trackers fund has the lowest expense ratio at 0.19%. Beyond the MSCI World, there are other index alternatives offering similar exposure, including the FTSE Developed Index. The Vanguard FTSE Developed World ETF charges a rock-bottom fee of 0.18%. Investors interested in including some emerging-markets exposure can look to the SPDR MSCI ACWI (TER: 0.40%) or the Vanguard FTSE All-World ETF (TER: 0.25%). As an alternative, investors can also look to strategic-beta products tracking world indexes like dividend screened/weighted and low/minimum volatility funds. There is also a plethora of currency-hedged world ETFs to choose from. These numerous strategies suit different market environments.

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Über den Autor

Morningstar ETF Analysts  Alan Rambaldini is an ETF analyst with Morningstar.