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Infrastructure ETF Has Inauspicious Start

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The experience of the last 11 years has left many investors scratching their heads about whether equities make sense any more as long-term investments.

Although I believe they do, investing in them requires more than simply buying a broad-based domestic index fund such as the iShares S&P 1500 Index Fund (ISI).

The indices underlying these funds haven't gone anywhere in a decade and don't hold much immediate promise.

One possible road to "normal" returns is investing in themes like infrastructure, something I've written about over the years.

Even as the global economy ebbs and flows over the next decade, money is going to be spent improving infrastructure in developed nations and creating infrastructure in developing nations.

Estimates call for trillions of dollars to be spent globally over the next five years, creating an obvious tailwind for the various funds that track infrastructure-related stocks.

Well, most of them anyway.

There is a new closed-end fund in the space that is off to a dreadful start: the Brookfield Global Listed Infrastructure Income Fund (INF). (A tip of the hat to Brett Arends at MarketWatch; I became aware of this fund through one of his articles.)

The fund's quarterly report (Remember: Closed-end funds don't offer real-time transparency.) says this ETF has allocated 48.5% to oil and gas storage and transportation and 31.5% to electricity transmission and distribution. Much smaller weightings are given to things like airports, toll roads and water.

Obviously, the two largest groups in the Brookfield Global Listed Infrastructure Income Fund generally consist of very high-yielding stocks, and this is of course one of the fund's stated objectives.

Because INF is an actively managed fund, there is no way to know what it will own in the future. Nevertheless, it is very likely to always be heavy in utility-like stocks with high yields such as National Grid (NGG) or Enbridge Energy Partners (EEP).

And although that might make the fund a great hold in the long run, it would mean that it may not directly track the trillions of dollars expected to be spent on improving and creating infrastructure.

The Brookfield Global Listed Infrastructure Income Fund recently declared that its first quarterly dividend will be $0.116 per share and pay later this month. Because this dividend won't capture a full quarter, the yield from subsequent dividends could be higher.

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