The S&P 500 garnered as much as 5.4% in the first three months of 2011. What might we expect for the next quarter?
Other than Jim Cramer, most would likely concede that the April-June period could be a bit tougher for U.S. stocks. “Almanac traders” would point to 100 years of data on Q2 underperformance. “Inflation fighters” would chronicle the directionality of core and non-core consumer prices. Meanwhile, “monetary policy monitors” would discuss the anticipated conclusion of quantitative easing and the probable rise in treasury yields.
It’s not that U.S. stocks look unattractive ... on the contrary. U.S. mega-corporations present attractive valuations at 12-14x forward earnings. Yet earnings growth may be simmering down, as not every company can pass along increasing input costs for the products and services being sold.
I am convinced that the best prospects for Q2 will come from foreign ETFs. Not only did they underperform due to inflation scares in Q1, but emergers may be closer to shifting from tightening policies to neutrality. Stateside, we can only move in a tightening direction - even if that direction is merely the end of quantitative easing.
Here are three foreign ETFs that should out-hustle the S&P 500 in Q2:
1. iShares All-Country Asia ex Japan (AAXJ). This fund tracks the MSCI All-Country Asia excluding Japan Index. While the S&P 500 has merrily traveled a path to 5.4% Q1 gains, AAXJ is down roughly -1.0%. Herein may lie a relative bargain.
Equally important, Asian neighbors of Japan stand to benefit the most from Japan’s importing needs. China and Korea - AAXJ’s top two country holdings - will export more to Japan while the yen is strong and they will export more to the world while Japan remains mired in rebuilding mode.
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2. S&P Emerging Market Dividend (EDIV). I know that some readers may have expected me to go with the more established WisdomTree Emerging Market Equity Income Fund (DEM) for an emerging market dividend choice. And, in truth, these funds will mirror one another closely.
However, I’ve had tremendous success with Brazilian utilities - both with respect to their yields as well as their growth prospects. It follows that EDIV has a larger weighting in the utilities sector than its rival; EDIV also has a larger weighting in Brazil. What’s more, I am estimating that EDIV may be able to produce an annual yield closer to 4%. DEM’s tendency is to come closer to 3.25%.
3. iShares JP Morgan Emerging Market Corporate Bond (EMB). Due to monetary tightening and rising interest rates accross all emergers - Brazil, India and China, in particular - the cash flow from bond payments has barely made up for the capital depreciation. However, the majority of EMs are getting closer to embracing a more neutral stance. Each will be turning its attention back to growing its economic activity, rather than constraining it.
Consider all of the talk about emerging market outflows and emerging market underperformance. That’s old news! Emergers have reclaimed their assertiveness since late February, and that includes the corporate bonds arena. EMB has climbed above and effectively remained above its 200-day exponential average for five weeks.
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Disclosure: Gary Gordon, MS, CFP is the president of Pacific Park Financial, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC. Gary Gordon, Pacific Park Financial, Inc, and/or its clients may hold positions in the ETFs, mutual funds, and/or any investment asset mentioned above. The commentary does not constitute individualized investment advice. The opinions offered herein are not personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities. At times, issuers of exchange-traded products compensate Pacific Park Financial, Inc. or its subsidiaries for advertising at the ETF Expert web site. ETF Expert content is created independently of any advertising relationships.