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Top 10 Asia ETFs

Our goal in this profile is to help investors wade through the many competing ETF offerings available. Using our long experience as an ETF publication, and nearly 40 years in the investment business, we can help select those ETFs that matter and may or may not be repetitive. The result is a more manageable list of issues from which to view and make selections.

There are several dozen ETFs associated with Asia single country markets, excluding China and India. The biggest, of course, are from Japan which is now the third largest global market in terms of market capitalization. We lead with that market, saving China and India for another profile. This allows us to focus on some of the more interesting and growing countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, with most countries formerly known as the Asian Tigers.

We're not ranking these ETFs favoring one over another so don't let the listing order mislead you. Although we may use some of these in ETF Digest portfolios it's not our intention to recommend one over another.

ProShares and Direxion Shares offer several inverse and leveraged issues for those interested in hedging or outright speculation.

Our technical methodology involves using, where possible, monthly charts with enough data to allow investors to stay on the right side of the 12 month moving averages. Further, when market prices move too far above or below this moving average investors can assume a correction in the other direction will eventually take place. In this regard caution is advised.

EWJ (iShares Japan ETF) follows the MSCI Japan Index which is a proprietary index covering the Japanese equity market. The fund was launched in March 1996. The expense ratio is .54%. AUM (Assets under Management) equal $8 billion and average daily trading volume is over 28M shares. As of early August 2011 the annual dividend was $.07 making the current yield .68% and YTD return -1.83%.

A competitive issue would be JPP (SPDR Russell/Nomura Prime Japan ETF) with an expense ratio of .50% and AUM of $16 million and average daily trading volume of less than 2K shares.

Also ProShares features leveraged products for hedging and speculating with similar tracking characteristics to EWJ and others.

Data as of July 2011

EWJ Top Ten Holdings & Weightings

  1. Toyota Motor Corporation (7203): 5.08%
  2. Honda Motor Company (7267):  2.75%
  3. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (8306):  2.60%
  4. Canon, Inc. (CAJFF):  2.37%
  5. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Inc. (SMFNF):  1.71%
  6. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (4502):  1.64%
  7. Mitsubishi (8058):  1.54%
  8. Softbank Corporation (SFTBF):  1.46%
  9. Mizuho Financial Group, Inc. (8411):  1.42%
  10. Mitsui & Co Ltd (8031):  1.31%


ITF (iShares TOPIX 150 ETF) follows the S&P Tokyo Stock Price Index 150 Index which measures the performance of the 150 most liquid securities from each major market sector listed in Tokyo. The fund was launched in October 2010. The expense ratio is .50%. AUM equal $110 million and average daily trading volume is over 10K shares. As of early August 2011 the annual dividend was $.46 making the current yield 1% and YTD performance -2.90%.

Data as of July 2011

ITF Top Ten Holdings & Weightings

  1. Toyota Motor Corporation (7203):  5.94%
  2. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (8306):  3.73%
  3. Honda Motor Company (7267):  3.25%
  4. Canon, Inc. (CAJFF):  2.85%
  5. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Inc. (SMFNF):  2.35%
  6. Mizuho Financial Group, Inc. (8411):  1.94%
  7. Mitsubishi (8058):  1.92%
  8. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (9432):  1.89%
  9. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (4502):  1.82%
  10. Softbank Corporation (SFTBF):  1.76%

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