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Is It Time To Buy India?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- At the end of last month we looked at whether it made sense to buy Indonesia as a contrarian trade after months of declining prices and deteriorating sentiment. Since then the Market Vectors Indonesia Equity Index ETF (IDX) has had a bumpy ride to an almost 10% gain, along with many other emerging markets, even after dropping 11% in the last week.

An even bigger investing basket case has been India which has had problems with relatively high inflation and the Indian rupee. India's currency has declined 13% against the US dollar in 2013; a huge move for a currency. Last week India's central bank raised rates to 7.5% from 7.25% to try to contain inflation, a move that is putting political pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is up for reelection in April 2014.

There are of course many ETFs providing access to India. The largest two funds are the WisdomTree India Earnings Fund (EPI) which has $900 million in assets and the iShares India 50 ETF (INDY - Get Report) with $400 million in assets.

EPI as the name implies weights its constituents by earnings over the prior fiscal year. Energy is the largest sector at 20% of the fund followed by banks at 19% and software and services at 14%. There will be many unfamiliar stocks in the fund but investors may recognize some names including infosys (INFY - Get Report) and Tata Motors (TTM).

INDY looks a lot different than EPI at the sector level. Energy related companies only have an 11% weighting. Banks and finance related companies have a combined 24% weighting. The two funds have seven of their respective top 10 holdings in common but the largest stock in INDY is tobacco company ITC Limited with a 10% weighting but it only has a 1.75% weight in EPI.

Both funds are broad proxies for the India market and have traded in line with each other and are very volatile. iShares reports that INDY's beta is 1.46 which means that for every one percent that the S&P 500 moves, INDY can be expected to move 1.46%. EPI's beta is not reported on the fund's webpage it is it obvious from a chart comparing the two that the volatility profiles are very similar.

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EPI $24.19 0.00%
INDY $33.17 0.00%
INFY $36.71 0.00%
INCO $37.02 0.00%
TTM $49.22 0.00%


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S&P 500 2,104.50 -6.24 -0.30%
NASDAQ 4,963.5270 -24.3630 -0.49%

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