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Analyse: UBS-ETF plc MSCI Canada TRN

Dieser synthetisch replizierende ETF stellt eine taktische Wette auf Energie und Rohstoffe dar.

Alastair Kellett 27.08.2012

Rolle im Portfolio

The UBS ETF MSCI Canada TR provides exposure to many of the largest companies in Canada. Given its narrow focus, with 80% concentrated within three sectors of the economy, and the fact that Canada represents only a very small part of the global economy, the fund is best used as a tactical tool. Investors that are bullish on commodities may view Canada as an attractive alternative to some emerging markets that carry greater political risk alongside their access to natural resources. Over the last 20 years, the MSCI Canada Index has exhibited annualised volatility north of 15%, implying that it may be more appropriate for those with a lengthy time horizon. During the same period it has shown some diversification benefit, with correlations to the S&P 500 Index, the MSCI Europe Index and the MSCI World Index of 78%, 72%,and 81% respectively. The fund does not make any dividend distributions; therefore it may not suit an investor looking for regular investment income.

Fundamentale Analyse

Relative to much of the developed world, Canada has exhibited considerable strength in recent years. Inflation, measured at 1.5% in June, is fairly benign, and the unemployment rate of 7.2% doesn’t look too bad. Favouring a system of national champions rather than regional middleweights, Canada’s large, conservatively-run and heavily regulated banks sailed through the global financial crisis unscathed. And thanks to a secular bull market in commodities, the resource-rich country’s stock market has shown two decades of impressive results. GDP grew at an annualised pace of 1.9% in the first quarter of 2012, on par with the U.S. Through all of this, the domestic housing market has continued to march forward, barely pausing for breath at the depths of the crisis. This continued growth has sparked fears of a bubble; The Economist, for example, reckons Canada’s housing market is as expensive as the U.S.’s was prior to its collapse in 2007. Indeed, as measured against factors such as household income and rent, prices look very dear by both global and their own historical standards. In response, the federal government has taken a number of steps to cool things off, including reducing the allowable amortisation period for mortgages, and raising the down payment requirements. Still, the potential for a collapse in real estate remains a key risk for Canadian stocks, particularly the banks, which are considerably exposed to residential mortgages. Over the last 20 years the MSCI Canada Index has posted an annual gain of 8.64%, as measured in Canadian dollars, versus a corresponding local currency gain of 6.14% for the MSCI World. The Canadian dollar has strengthened immensely on the back of the same commodity story that has propelled the stock market. In the last 10 years it has risen by 60% against the U.S. dollar. After bottoming out at 9.1 in February 2009, the price-to-earnings ratio for the MSCI Canada Index reached 13.0 in July 2012. Since 2007 it has averaged 15.2. The Index’s top positions do not appear to offer much of a bargain. According to Morningstar equity analysts, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank are trading at respective discounts of 7.5% and 4.7% to what they estimate to be their fair value. And third-biggest holding Bank of Nova Scotia was approximately fairly valued, using the most recent closing price at the time of writing.


The MSCI Canada Index is a free float market capitalisation-weighted index currently consisting of 102 securities and covering approximately 84% of the Canadian equity market. New entrants must pass minimum requirements for liquidity and length of trading history. The median market cap of the constituents is $6.7 billion. The index is formally reviewed on a quarterly basis, although adjustments can be made at any time in the case of a significant corporate action. New size cut-offs are recalculated semi-annually. The ongoing reviews are meant to ensure that eligible new stocks are added to the index, and that existing stocks continue to meet criteria. To control portfolio turnover, buffers are used for existing constituents, so that they are not immediately removed upon falling out of line with any of the index’s entrance criteria. The Index is narrowly concentrated within three sectors of the economy. As of the end of July, financials made up 33.7% of the total, energy made up 27.4%, and materials 18.2%. There was a fair bit of concentration at the individual holding level, with 39.2% within the top 10 names.


The fund uses synthetic replication to provide exposure to the underlying benchmark, employing a combination of unfunded and funded swap structures in a ratio that can change over time. As of August 10th, 2012, 24.3% of the fund’s assets were in a funded swap, and the remaining 75.7% were in an unfunded swap. UBS provides full transparency on the swap collateral and substitute baskets. In the funded swap portion, collateral consists of 44% U.S. government bonds and 56% supranational bonds. The legal title of the collateral is transferred to the fund. In the unfunded swap portion, the substitute basket consists entirely of European and Japanese equities from a diverse set of industries. As of this writing, the fund’s level of collateralisation against the swaps is 102.31%. Under the terms of the swaps, counterparty UBS AG agrees to provide the fund with exposure to the total return of the underlying index, net of any costs of fees associated with providing the exposure. The return from the swap assumes that all dividends paid by the underlying stocks are reinvested in the index. The fund does not pay out any dividend distributions. The fund is Irish-domiciled and has the Canadian dollar as its base currency. At the time of writing it had assets of roughly C$40 million. The fund does not engage in securities lending.


The fund has a total expense ratio (TER) of 0.45%, which is middling relative to other funds offering similar exposure. Other costs potentially borne by the unitholder but not included in the total expense ratio include swap fees, bid-ask spreads on the ETF, transaction costs on the infrequent occasions when the underlying index holdings change, and brokerage fees when buy and sell orders are placed for ETF shares.


For exposure to large cap Canadian equities there are a number of choices. These include CS ETF(IE) on MSCI Canada, db x-trackers MSCI Canada TRN, HSBC MSCI Canada ETF, iShares MSCI Canada, and Lyxor ETF Canada (S&P/TSX 60). Of these, the biggest is the iShares fund, with assets of $175 million. The funds with the lowest TERs are the db x-trackers fund and the HSBC fund, both at 0.35%.


Über den Autor

Alastair Kellett  Al Kellett is an ETF analyst with Morningstar Europe.