Greek Woes To Impact Brexit? ETFs In Focus

Includes: EWU, EWUS, FKU, GREK
by: Zacks Funds

Greece is back in the headlines and the reasons are ominous. Apart from the refugee crisis that has engulfed the country, per a leaked conference call transcript published by WikiLeaks, another financial crisis is looming ahead for this embattled nation.

In the document, International Monetary Fund (NYSE:IMF) officials discussed that the only thing that will force Greece to adopt further stringent measures is a credit event. They further stated that if such an event occurs, it is unlikely that Greece will follow through on IMF's budget target. Apart from that they also commented that such an event could lead Greece's largest sovereign creditor, Germany, to restructure the company's debts.

As expected, the leaked document has sparked off political drama with the Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, questioning the good faith of the IMF officials. Tsipras also cited this as a plan to extend bailout negotiations in July, when Greece is scheduled to make huge debt repayments.

In response, the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde stated that the Fund is still far from an agreement that would allow additional loans to Greece.

Greece's financial condition has time and again come to the limelight. Last year, Greece was on the brink of a default only to be saved by a multi-billion-dollar bailout by the EU and IMF. This allowed the country to avoid bankruptcy and stay in the Euro zone. Some analysts believe that if Greece doesn't agree to reforms suggested by its creditors in the third bailout, Grexit could also be on the cards (read: Grexit or Not, Buy These 3 European ETFs).

The latest twist to the Greece story has come from Ewald Nowotny, a member of the European Central Bank's Governing Council and head of Austria's central bank. Nowotny commented in an interview that "IMF is economically speaking no longer necessary for a stabilization of Greece. This is a problem that the Europeans could solve themselves."

Impact on Brexit

Greece troubles could cast a shadow on Britain. Britain will be voting on June 23 on the question "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?" This will be one of the biggest strategic decisions in decades (read: British ETFs in Focus on Brexit Talks).

There has been a steady rise in Eurosceptics in the UK over the past decade pressing for a referendum largely because of Europe's migration crisis and continued Euro zone travails. Although chances of Brexit were slim a couple of years back, the perpetual problems in the EU have over time narrowed the polls. Fresh woes in Greece could eventually increase the chances of Brexit.

Whether Greece will overcome its financial troubles and UK will ultimately choose Brexit or select to remain in the EU are questions yet to be answered. But polls, political propaganda and speculations will continue to stimulate uncertainty in the short term. In this scenario, we highlight a Greek ETF and three ETFs that are primarily exposed to British equities, which are likely to be on investors' radar in the coming days.


The Greece ETF lost about 9.7% so far this year. The fund tracks the MSCI All Greece Select 25/50 Index and is home to a small basket of 32 companies. The fund trades in average daily volumes of around 427,000 shares. It is heavily concentrated in the top two firms holding nearly one fourth of total assets.

Financials takes the top spot in terms of sector holdings, followed by consumer cyclical, energy and telecom. The product has AUM of $234.2 million and charges 63 bps in fees per year from investors. It has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) with a High risk outlook.

iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF (NYSEARCA:EWU)

This product tracks the MSCI United Kingdom Index. In total, it holds 113 securities with none of the firms holding more than 5.3% of weight. EWU is popular and actively traded with AUM of $2 billion and average daily volume of almost 3.6 million shares. From a sector look, financials takes the top spot at 20.5% while consumer staples, energy, consumer discretionary, and health care round off the top five. The ETF charges 47 bps in annual fees. It has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook. The fund is down 5.4% in the year-to-date period.

First Trust United Kingdom AlphaDEX ETF (NASDAQ:FKU)

This fund provides exposure to 75 firms by tracking the NASDAQ AlphaDEX United Kingdom Index. The fund has amassed $154.3 million in its asset base while it has an average daily volume of more than 34,000 shares. None of the firms accounts for more than 2.5% of total assets.

Sector-wise, financials takes the top spot at about 31.5% share while consumer discretionary, industrials and information technology also have double-digit allocation. FKU charges a fee of 80 bps annually and has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook. The fund has lost 8.5% since the beginning of the year.

iShares MSCI United Kingdom Small-Cap Index ETF (BATS:EWUS)

With AUM of $13.2 million, this product tracks the MSCI United Kingdom Small Cap Index. In total, it has a diversified portfolio of 238 securities with none of the components holding more than 2.2% weight. From a sector look, financials takes the top spot at 23.1% while consumer discretionary, industrials, information technology and materials round off the top five. The ETF has an expense ratio of 0.59% and trades in light volume of around 2,500 shares a day. The fund lost 6.9% so far this year (as of April 5, 2016) and has a Zacks ETF Rank #4 (Sell) with a Medium risk outlook.

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