iShares Switzerland Can Ease Portfolio Turmoil

Sep.22.08 | About: iShares MSCI (EWL)

As reported, during the unraveling of the worst of last week's financial crisis, investors were looking for safe havens. Certainly, precious metals will fit that category, but I believe that for many investors a healthy dose of iShares' Switzerland (NYSEARCA:EWL) may be worth a look to cure high anxiety.

First, the currency in Switzerland has traditionally been viewed as solid and less prone to the gyrations of a volatile financial crisis elsewhere. Second, I have always liked the portfolio of this ETF. The companies are gold standards in their league from top to bottom (EWL holds forty-one securities). EWL, while under-performing modestly over the past several years, is poised for growth in a new, more fiscally regulated world. Third, EWL has never been a disappointment to me as a core holding in my permanent portfolio. Long term, being able to sleep at night is a feature not lost on the portfolio holding this ETF.

Currently, about 45% of EWL's holdings are in three stocks:

Nestle (OTCPK:NSRGY)(19%)
Roche Holdings AG (OTCQX:RHHBY) (13%)
Novartis (NYSE:NVS) (13%)

Other top holdings include:
UBS (NYSE:UBS) (5%)
Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) (5%)
Zurich Financial (5%)
ADD Ltd. (5%)
CIE Financial (4%)
Syngenta Ag. (NYSE:SYT) (4%)
Swiss Reinsurance (3%)
Synthes Inc. (3%)
Holcim Ltd. (2%)
Swisscom Inc. (2%)

Sector breakdown includes:

Health Care 31.87%
Financials 21.90%
Consumer Staples 18.64%
Industrials 10.80%
Materials 7.94%
Consumer Discretionary 5.57%
Telecommunications 1.91%
Information Tech. 0.77%
short term securities 0.06%

I think the sector balance, Swiss Franc currency and stability of the companies in the holdings of EWL lend to serious consideration of the ETF at this time. Even UBS, the one company that has flopped on this index, appears to be headed in the correct direction.

EWL, following the MSCI Index, features total assets of over $392m. The ETF trades at $22.41/share. Expenses are .51%. As with almost all ETFs, I recommend buying using limit orders about a penny above the last trade. Spreads on ETFs can be nasty for the less knowledgeable investor.