With much of the developed world still eking out paltry growth rates, developing economies look like attractive investment opportunities. While there are those that may be turned away by the riskier nature of the emerging markets, investors can consider low-volatility exchange traded fund options to gain exposure instead.
The emerging market story is an appealing investment idea. Developing market growth is set to outpace the developed world, and emerging markets are currently trading at about a 20% discount to developed markets, writes Russ Koesterich, Global Chief Investment Strategist for iShares. The U.S. is also facing a fiscal cliff.
"With inflation stable and growth set to accelerate, we think the relative difference in value offers a good opportunity for investors looking to gain access to growth in a slow growth environment," Koesterich said. "As such, we would advocate that investors overweight emerging market equities heading into the new year."
Still, for those who do not want to stomach the potential swings in emerging market equities, investors can look for low-volatility emerging market ETFs.
For instance, the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Minimum Volatility Index Fund (EEMV) tries to reflect the performance of the MSCI Emerging Markets Minimum Volatility Index, which tracks emerging market stocks that exhibit lower absolute volatility. EEMV has a 0.25% expense ratio, and comes with a 3.07%, 30-day SEC yield.
Country allocations include Taiwan 15.3%, China 13.0%, South Korea 10.5%, Malaysia 9.2%, South Africa 8.2%, Thailand 6.9%, Brazil 6.8%, Chile 6.0%, Indonesia 5.3%, and Colombia 4.0%.
Sector allocations include financials 25.6%, telecom services 13.6%, consumer staples 13.6%, information technology 8.3%, energy 8.2%, utilities 7.4%, materials 7.2%, health care 5.7%, industrials 5.5%, and consumer discretionary 4.8%.
The other emerging market low-volatility ETF -- the PowerShares S&P Emerging Markets Low Volatility Portfolio (EELV) -- tries to reflect the performance of the S&P BMI Emerging Markets low Volatility Index, which takes the 200 least volatile stocks of the S&P Emerging BMI Plus LargeMid Cap Index over the past 12 months. EELV has a 0.29% expense ratio and a 2.59% yield.
Country allocations include Malaysia 22.1%, South Africa 18.6%, Taiwan 14.3%, Chile 10.9%, Brazil 8.4%, Colombia 5.8%, Mexico 3.2%, Philippines 2.4%, South Korea 2.3%, and Morocco 2.3%.
Sector allocations include consumer discretionary 9.0%, consumer staples 14.4%, energy 3.2%, financials 27.0%, health care 2.6%, industrials 9.2%, information technology 1.6%, investment companies 1.1%, materials 8.6%, telecom services 10.3%, and utilities 12.9%.
"Investors of all stripes can benefit from less-volatile stocks thanks to a puzzling phenomenon: Over the past 50 years, the least-volatile stocks have performed about as well as the market but with far less risk," according to Morningstar analyst Samuel Lee.
Max Chen contributed to this article.