Run, Don't Walk To These Global Small Cap ETFs

by: Benzinga

By The ETF Professor

Remember the January Effect? You know, the notion that small-caps lead a January equity rally?

Well, the statistics say that's exactly what's happening right now. Heading into the start of trading Friday, the iShares Russell 2000 Index Fund (NYSEARCA:IWM) was up almost 6% since the start of the new year compared to a 4% gain for the S&P 500.

But that's just focusing on the U.S. The universe of international small-cap ETFs continues to grow and there are opportunities galore here for investors to profit from a global small-cap rally. Some ETFs, both new and seasoned, are worth a look right now. Seriously, don't delay because some are already in rally mode.

iShares MSCI Singapore Small Cap Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWSS) The small-cap cousin to the popular iShares MSCI Singapore Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWS), EWSS just made its debut last week and has already accumulated $2.6 million in assets under management. There are plenty of sound reasons to investigate the Singapore investment theme and small-caps could be leaders, not laggards when it comes to Singapore in 2012 if the risk on trade is reborn in earnest.

EGShares India Small Cap ETF (NYSEARCA:SCIN) The trials and tribulations of Indian equities and the ETFs that track them in 2011 have been well-documented and can be boiled down to one naughty buzz word: inflation. Maybe it's because things just couldn't get any worse or maybe it's because investors are seeing value in Indian stocks, but whatever the reason is, the EGShares India Small Cap ETF has been a shining star in early 2012.

Like the performance of IWM? Try SCIN on for size. The ETF was up about 20% year-to-date at the start of trading today.

Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF (NYSEARCA:BRF) It's looking like it's safe to dip a toe or two back in Brazil's investment waters and for those inclined to do it with small-caps, BRF is one choice. The iShares MSCI Brazil Small Cap Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWZS) is another. Both are off to stellar starts this year.

A word of caution: There have been times over the past two years that the large cap-focused iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWZ) has noticeably outperformed Brazilian small-caps. In 2012, EWZ is slightly outpacing the small-cap Brazil ETFs and investors need to acknowledge that before making a choice here.

Market Vectors LatAm Small-Cap Index ETF (NYSEARCA:LATM) First, the bad news regarding the Market Vectors LatAm Small-Cap Index ETF. It has lagged BRF and SCIN to start the new year. The good news is this under-the-radar play has also easily outpaced IWM.

With over 30% exposure to materials names, LATM is an ideal risk on trade. Obviously, that means the ETF must be avoided when the market is screaming "defense." Brazil, Mexico and Chile account for about two-thirds of LATM's country weight.

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Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.