Earlier this week, communication and IT industry giant Cisco Systems
This massive expansion in Russia represents a huge development for not only the company but for the Russian technology industry as a whole. The fact that Russia was able to attract such a large investment from Cisco to develop better infrastructure in the country suggests that the industry is up-and-coming and that efforts to attract foreign companies are off to a good start. These efforts could help to diversify the resource-intensive Russian economy, a high priority for the current Russian government. In fact, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev has set aside several generous perks for companies that establish operations in Russia's new tech center, including 10-year tax holidays, fast-track residence and work permits for foreign professionals.
For investors who see Cisco's venture into Russia as a sign of brighter times to come for the emerging market, there are a number of ways to establish exposure through ETFs:
Market Vectors Russia ETF
RSX is the most popular and widely traded Russian ETF on the market today; the fund has over $1.7 billion in assets and has an average daily volume of 3.8 million shares. Reflecting the composition of the Russian economy, the fund is heavily concentrated on energy and industrial materials firms, which make up close to two-thirds of the fund's total assets. RSX also displays a high level of concentration in giant and large-cap firms; a very small portion of assets are in small-cap stocks. Despite the risk that comes with a heavy reliance on natural resource prices, RSX has delivered some huge returns in recent periods; the fund is up almost 50% over the past 52 weeks, but has posted a loss of 5% thus far in 2010 [also see Three Country ETFs With Low Debt-To-GDP].
S&P SPDR Russia ETF
RBL is a relatively new fund that offers slightly lower expenses than RSX (three basis points). This fund also allocates a large amount of its assets to energy and materials firms, which make up just over 60% of RBL holdings. Its top holdings are both Russian oil and gas firms, with Gazprom leading the way at 16% of assets and Lukoil accounting for about 8%. Since its inception a few months ago, the fund has lost about 9%, but it has surged as of late to post a gain of 5% over the past two weeks [also see Russia ETFs Head-To-Head: RBL vs. RSX].
Broad Emerging Europe Funds
For investors looking to make a more diversified play on the regional economy, two options exist that allocate just over 50% of their assets to the Russian economy while spreading out the rest among several emerging eastern European (such as Hungary and Poland). There are a few differences between these funds; the SPDR S&P Emerging Europe ETF
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.
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