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A Precious Latin American ETF

Stocks in this article: LATM BRF ILF

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Investors have another option when it comes to Latin America with the recent introduction of the Market Vectors Latin America Small-Cap Index ETF (LATM).

This follows the popular Market Vectors Brazil Small Cap ETF (BRF) introduced last year.

Before this ETF, exposure to Latin America was mainly through a few large cap funds. iShares S&P Latin America 40 (ILF), Fidelity Latin America (FLATX) and SPDR S&P Latin America (GML).

At $4.5 billion in assets, FLATX is much larger than ILF, which had $2.7 billion on March 31, and both dwarf the less than $200 in GML

Of the four ETFs, LATM is the least overweight Brazil, with only 42% of assets in the country, just ahead of GML, with 44% of assets. Both ILF and FLATX have 62% of assets in Brazil. Adding in Mexico, the combined exposure to the two countries comes to more than 80% of ILF and FLATX, almost 80% of GML, but only 65% of LATM.

However, one-fifth of LATM's geographic exposure is in assets headquartered in Canada, meaning the Latin American country exposure is a bit underreported. For instance, Jaguar Mining (JAG) operates in Brazil, while Ventana Gold operates in Colombia

For sector exposure, every fund is heavy in materials. GML and ILF have 30% in the sector, while LATM has 26% and FLATX has about 20%. Of the three large cap funds, energy and financials also are heavily weighted in the portfolio. LATM is slightly underweighted in financials, while energy is a small position with about 5% of assets.

When it comes to consumer staples and consumer discretionary, the difference is wide. The three large cap funds have large exposure to consumer staples and small exposure to consumer discretionary. LATM inverts this, with 23% of assets (the second largest sector exposure) in consumer discretionary, and only 4% in consumer staples.

LATM also has double to triple the industrials exposure of the large cap ETFs, in addition to 6% of assets in health care and 5% in information technology. The large cap funds have negligible exposure in these two sectors, if there's any exposure at all.

A big difference between the funds also comes from the holdings within the sectors. Materials exposure in the large cap Latin America ETFs comes from large positions in Vale (VALE), the Brazilian iron ore miner, and steelmakers such as Gerdau (GGB) and Companhia Siderurgica Nacional (SID).

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