The Mexican stock market has been an excellent performer over the last five years, surpassing many other developing nation markets as well as the S&P 500.
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Although we are bullish overall on the Mexican market over the long-term, it has been breaking down since the beginning of this year. It's nice to have a hedge that will cover any further decline.
Luckily, the Mexico Fund (MXF), a closed-end fund, provides a perfect hedging vehicle. For most of its existence MXF has traded at a chronic discount of nearly 10% to its Net Asset Value (NAV). That's fairly typical for a developing country CEF, because the discount has to make up for the substantial expense fee (1.48%) as well as the poor liquidity. In the last six months, MXF has switched from a big discount to a huge premium of nearly 13%.
This premium is completely irrational. The other Mexico CEF, the Mexico Equity and Income Fund (MXE), continues to trade at a discount.
MXF doesn't contain anything special. In fact its holdings almost perfectly overlap the Mexico ETF (EWW). Below are some of the top holdings of the two funds.
|Fomento Economico Mexicano||7.75%||8.76%|
|Wal-Mart De Mexico||6.08%||6.0%|
|Grupo Financiero Banorte||4.53%||4.77%|
In an nutshell the two funds are practically identical, except that you get to pay an extra 1% in expenses each year for MXF.
So why would anyone pay a huge premium for MXF? The answer: yield-chasing. MXF pays a "managed" distribution of 8.49%. Of course the portfolio companies don't yield anywhere near that much. So the payout is really just capital gains re-packaged into distributions.
CEF pricing anomalies can persist for a long time. But then, they can evaporate overnight. All it takes is a catalyst. The Aberdeen Chile Fund (CH) closed-end fund is perfect case-study. CH, like MXF, traded at a big discount for years, until it suddenly became popular in 2012, shooting up to a massive premium. In April 2012, I wrote this article. You can see the effect of the article on the premium below.
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A year later, CH has still not recovered its big premium. Eventually, we can expect something similar to happen with MXF. That's why we like it as a Mexico hedge. However, if much the Mexican market goes down, we can expect MXF to go down a lot more.