Saturday, May 12, 2007

India Funds Revisited

In this blog, we have looked at emerging market economies and the options available to US investors to get into such markets. One of the hot emerging markets is India. In this blog we have looked at Indian equities and funds quite a few times. We will revisit the India funds again to see if they present an opportunity or two.

First a note about the Indian economy and stock markets.

The economy has been growing at a fast pace, inflation has also been growing at around 6% range flaming fears of overheating or an outright crash. In order to eliminate this scenario, the Indian central bank has increased interest rates and has not interfered with the strengthening Indian Rupee. The strength in the Indian currency will most likely hurt the Indian exporters but may help reduce inflation.

The Indian stock market is an old institution, the oldest in Asia. However, the market is loosely regulated and has had a couple of major scandals in the nineties. The market is also known for its major peaks and valleys. In FY07, the Indian stock market hasnt done particularly well and this is a good sign for investors. The Indian stock market has been flat for the year while many other indices around the world have hit new highs.

The India funds of interest to us are IIF, IFN, MINDX, ETGIX, EEB, ADRE, EEM and VWO. EEB, EEM and VWO are not pure India plays but provide exposure to India. Let us compare these funds and see the pros/cons of each.

IIF is Morgan Stanley India Investment Fund. It is currently trading at almost 12% discount to NAV. The fund has an expense ratio of 1.35%. The fund hasnt kept up with the BSE Sensex Index in the past and the performance of the fund and charts were discussed in the previous article.

IFN is another India fund. It carries a slightly higher expense ratio of 1.41% and has a lesser discout of 11% to NAV. This fund has also lagged BSE Sensex index. This fund has returned -10% so far this year.

MINDX is a mutual fund and has done better than IIF and IFN thus far in the year. This is largely because the mutual fund doesnt develop a large discount or premium to NAV. MINDX has an expense ratio 1.41% and has a separate management fee of 0.7%.

ETGIX has also done relatively well but has underperfomed MINDX. The fund has a front end load of 5.75% and management fee of 2.14%. This is not a good fund for individual investors with less than a million dollars of capital.

EEM has a 5.68% exposure to India, the lowest amongst the BRIC countries. EEM has a larger exposure to Russia, Chian and Brazil.

VWO has a larger 6.1% exposure to India. Similar to EEM, it has larger exposure to other BRIC countries.

From a performance point of view, EEM has done fractionally better than VWO in 2007 despite a higher expense ratio. In the past, EEM has done somewhat better than VWO.

EEB has a larger exposure of 13.5% to India. EEB is concentraded on BRIC and mainly BIC. The growth of Chinese market has helped this fund out perform both EEM and VWO thus far in 2007.

ADRE has a 7.88% exposure to India but is based off the ADRs. It has a lower expense ratio of 0.3% compared to other funds. This fund has a larger exposure to China and lesser exposure to Russia. This has done better than both EEM and VWO thus far this year.

In comparison, an emerging market fund with a cocktail of countries might prove to be a better investment in the longer term as opposed to one country alone. There are several choices available in this category for savvy investors.

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