Exchange-traded funds offer a convenient way to invest in sectors or niches that interest you. If you're looking to add diversification to your portfolio via international stocks, the Vanguard Total International Stock Index ETF
ETFs often sport lower expense ratios than their mutual fund cousins. The Vanguard ETF's expense ratio -- its annual fee -- is a very low 0.18%. (Vanguard is known for low fees.) It also recently yielded 3.1%.
This ETF doesn't have much of a performance track record yet, as it's so new. But as it's a passive, low-fee index fund giving you much of the world's publicly traded stocks (with U.S.-based ones removed), its performance will simply closely track the performance of the world markets. As with most investments, of course, we can't expect outstanding performances in every quarter or year. Investors with conviction need to wait for their holdings to deliver.
With a low turnover rate of 3%, this fund isn't frantically and frequently rejiggering its holdings, as many funds do.
What's in it?
More than a handful of international companies had strong performances over the past year. U.K.-based telecom giant Vodafone
Other companies didn't do as well last year, but could see their fortunes change in the coming years. France-based oil company Total
Germany-based conglomerate Siemens
The big picture
A well-chosen ETF can grant you instant diversification across any industry or group of companies -- and make investing in and profiting from it that much easier.
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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, owns shares of Verizon Communications, but she holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see her holdings and a short bio. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Total and Vodafone Group. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.