Just as Galileo debunked the belief that the sun rotated around the Earth, rapidly expanding global markets have today altered perceptions about whether the U.S. is the center of the investing universe.
With markets outside North America now accounting for more than half of total global capitalization, investors might want to consider whether their portfolio should be U.S.-centered. The new Claymore/Zacks Country Rotation ETF
The Country Rotation Fund tracks the Zacks Country Rotation index, which is comprised of 200 stocks primarily selected from the MSCI EAFE Index. (If you must know, that mouthful of an acronym stands for Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australasia, and Far East.) The index does not include companies based in Greece, nor does it include the rapidly growing markets of Brazil, Russia, India, or China. But it does include 21 of the more developed markets, including stocks from Canada and running alphabetically from Australia to the United Kingdom. Country allocations are determined using quantitative macroeconomic factors, focusing on the global economic environment in a bottom-up approach.
Each company within the chosen countries is then ranked according to factors such as growth rates, liquidity, and relative valuations. The average market cap of the resulting selections currently is $47.4 billion. The calculations are repeated semiannually.
Concentration and risk
Despite owning a large number of stocks, the Country Rotation Fund is heavily concentrated in a couple of ways: 40% of the fund's assets are in financial companies. Country exposure is concentrated, with 25% of the fund invested in the United Kingdom, 13% in Australia, and nearly 11% in Hong Kong.
The fund is subject to the usual risks of investing outside the U.S., such as lower market liquidity, higher market volatility, and less complete financial information than for U.S. issuers. In addition, adverse political, economic, or social developments could negatively influence the value of the Fund's investments.
The fund's top three stocks have a decidedly Asian focus, yet at roughly 1% each, they're still only a small slice of the overall portfolio. The largest holding is Sun Hung Kai Properties, one of the largest property companies in Asia. Next is the well-known Singapore Airlines, a trendsetter in the aviation industry with a strong brand name and a reputation for service, innovation, safety, and consistent profitability. Keppel, a Singapore-based investment holding and management company with significant operations in offshore oil rig construction, shipbuilding, and ship repair, completes the top three.
Country Rotation's method of ranking and rebalancing its holdings is a brand-new and untested strategy, and with a 0.65% expense ratio, it is not cheap compared to many exchange-traded funds. However, international investing has proven to be very profitable for investors lately, and the Country Rotation Fund does provide a unique way to gain access to global markets. Zacks' reputation for selecting high-performing stocks, combined with the global rotation concept, is an interesting package. Whether this particular fund is suitable for you, the time is certainly ripe to consider where international investments fit in your portfolio.
Fool contributor Zoe Van Schyndel lives in Miami and enjoys the sunshine and variety of the Magic City. She does not own any of the funds or securities mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.