Checking In: Success Where Others Failed?

Includes: EWH, EWHS, EWSS, FXI
by: Benzinga

By The ETF Professor

There has been some talk about ETF closures lately, but if no more ETFs were closed and no more were brought to market for the rest of 2012, iShares by itself would have introduced more new ETFs than it closed.

Plenty of those new iShares ETFs could prove to be rivals to previously existing funds, but a couple of them are copies of ETFs that closed.

You might remember that there was a Hong Kong small-cap ETF that saw its end late last year. Well, that did not stop iShares from rolling out the iShares MSCI Hong Kong Small Cap Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWHS) in January.

ETFs usually meet their end because of low assets and/or weak trading volume, and those were the culprits behind the death of the old Hong Kong small-cap play.

However, EWHS is off to a fine start in terms of AUM. Six weeks into its life, the ETF has over $5.8 million in assets. For now, its volume still leaves something to be desired, but it may start picking up steam. Home to 48 stocks, EWHS has an expense ratio of 0.59%.

EWHS is obviously the small-cap equivalent to the iShares MSCI Hong Kong Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWH) and beyond tracking the same country, both ETFs have excessive weights to one sector.

In the case of EWH, it is a 61% weight to financials. Regarding EWHS, it is a 41% allocation to consumer discretionary names. Overall, EWHS offers exposure to nine sectors, but three - consumer discretionary, financials and industrials - represent about 71% of the ETF's weight.

Maybe timing has something to do with the success of the new ETFs. Last year was not the best of times to be involved with Hong Kong and the old Hong Kong small-cap ETF perished.

Things appear much better this year. EWHS at least has a decent AUM haul and there are ample reasons currently to consider investing in Hong Kong.

The country has excellent credit and is a developed market avenue into China. If those factors don't boost the vitals for EWHS, maybe this will: Since inception, EWHS has outperformed its large-cap cousin iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (NYSEARCA:FXI). That's some impressive validation right there.

Another feather in EWHS' cap: It has also outperformed iShares MSCI Singapore Small Cap Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWSS), which debuted on the same day.

Bottom line: EWHS is another option for those seeking Hong Kong exposure and to this point, the returns have validated the fund's existence. The issue will be if EWHS can garner enough AUM and volume to make it more successful than its predecessor.

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

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