NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Exchange-traded fund companies have offered increasing specialization in equity ETFs for years, and now that trend is coming to fixed-income ETFs.
The most interesting new bond ETF is Market Vectors' LatAm Aggregate Bond ETF (BONO). "LatAm" is short for Latin America. The ticker symbol is taken from "bono," which is Spanish for bond.
This new ETF tracks a large number of countries. Brazil has the largest weighting, accounting for 27% of the fund, followed closely by Mexico, which accounts for 26%. Colombia has a 12% weighting, the Cayman Islands has 8.8% and Chile has a disappointingly low 2.9%. There are also more than a dozen countries with individual weightings of less than 1%. The fund has more than 450 holdings, which explains why some of the country weights are so small.
The LatAm Aggregate Bond ETF will own sovereign and corporate debt and will charge a net expense ratio of 0.49%. The underlying index has an average of 8.8 years to maturity, with an average yield to worst of 7.24%.After accounting for the fee, the fund could be expected to yield in the mid 6% range, but investors will need to wait until monthly payouts commence to get the real yield. Latin American debt obviously carries risks. Although the region has been doing well recently, it has been ground zero for past financial crises. Don't forget that Argentina devalued its peso only a decade ago. Brazil faces rising inflation and is taxing foreign investment to try stem the appreciation of the nation's currency, the real. The other big holding in the fund, Mexico, faces the depletion of the Cantarell Oil Field, which threatens to change the economic dynamics of the country. The bullish case for the region is that most of countries in the fund have become more prosperous as global demand for commodities has risen -- recent commodity price volatility nothwithstanding. This has helped boost the ranks of the middle class and allowed these countries to get their economic houses in order.
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