NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Funds that track the MSCI Emerging Markets benchmark have ranked among the most popular investments in recent years. Big members of the group include Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index (VEIEX) and Northern Emerging Markets Equity Index (NOEMX). By buying the index funds, investors figure that they can place a bet on the booming economies of countries such as Brazil and China where millions of consumers are entering the middle class.
But the MSCI funds may not provide the kind of exposure that investors expect, says Marten Hoekstra, chief executive of Emerging Global Advisors. For starters the index funds don't put all their assets in emerging markets, he says.
Morningstar, a quarter of the Vanguard Emerging Markets portfolio is in the developed world. This occurs because the index fund has stakes in South Korea and Taiwan, which are considered developed countries by the International Monetary Fund. Investing in Asian developed countries could produce decent returns, says Hoekstra. But like many developed economies, Taiwan and South Korea are growing at sluggish paces. While such developing economies as India and China have been growing at annual rates of more than 6%, Taiwan has been shrinking and South Korea has been reporting minuscule gains.
10 Consumer Stocks for the Stay-at-Home Investor