Investors should consider focusing a portion of their portfolio on the emerging markets. These are the nations across the world that are in the early stages of their economic development. As a result, these underdeveloped countries are experiencing rapid economic growth at rates far higher than more developed nations like the United States. A popular term for some of these markets is “BRIC”: Brazil, Russia, India and China. These four nations are considered the premier emerging markets right now.
All four countries are seeing above-average growth in gross domestic product for a variety of reasons. In the case of Brazil and Russia, it’s because of abundant domestic supplies of natural resources, which are now being tapped into to the benefit of their economies. As it pertains to India and China, these are highly populated nations with populations in excess of 1 billion each. They have huge numbers of citizens just now entering the middle class. Those countries are therefore enjoying booming consumer classes.
As a result, investors should consider making the emerging markets a strategic priority.
Top Mutual Funds for Emerging Markets
Here are a few mutual funds that focus on the emerging markets.
|Fund Name||Year-to-Date Return||Expense Ratio||Morningstar Rating|
|American Funds New World Class A (NEWFX)||-4%||1.03%||5-May|
|Fidelity Total Emerging Markets Fund (FTEMX)||-8%||1.40%||5-Apr|
|Vanguard Emerging Markets Index Fund (VEIEX)||-13%||0.33%||5-Mar|
There are several benefits to each fund. The American Funds fund comprises 78% stocks. Some of its top holdings include Baidu, Novo Nordisk and Novartis. Its holdings are concentrated in the financial services (15%) and health care (12%) sectors. In addition, this fund carries an excellent Morningstar rating. It also offers a nearly 1% dividend yield, which is rare for an emerging-market fund.
Next, the Fidelity fund has performed poorly this year due to the sell-off in the Chinese equity markets. And it carries a slightly higher annual expense ratio than many in its peer group. It is highly concentrated in equities. Approximately 46% of the portfolio is concentrated in the financial services and information technology sectors. The fund is concentrated geographically as well, with 41% of its investments located in the Emerging Asia region of the world. Among its top 10 holdings are Taiwan Semiconductor, Samsung Electronics and Tencent Holdings.
Lastly, the Vanguard fund is an index of emerging-market investments. The best feature of Vanguard funds is their extremely low annual fees. An added benefit of this fund is that it pays a 3% dividend, which is a very rare yield among emerging markets-focused funds and could be extremely attractive for investors who appreciate receiving income from their mutual fund holdings. Among its top 10 holdings are China Construction Bank Corp., and China Mobile.
The Bottom Line
The emerging markets present a great deal of long-term potential for their above-average economic growth. At the same time, however, there are significant risks that investors should carefully consider before investing. First, there is currency risk. The strengthening U.S. dollar has had a pronounced negative impact on investing in other parts of the world.
But there are other risks as well, such as geopolitical risk. In many parts of the world, social and political conditions can become unstable quickly. This can disrupt business conditions and upend the economic trajectory of a nation.
As a result, investing in international markets, and in particular the emerging markets, may carry higher risk than investing in developed economies like the United States. But for long-term investors, or those with higher risk tolerances, the emerging markets could reward patience. These mutual funds are some of the best options for investing in the emerging markets.