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Exchange traded funds with diverse holdings in emerging markets outperformed "BRIC" investments in the three-month rally that began in March.

Three emerging market ETFs, in the table below, surged as much as 78% in the three months through May. The three best BRIC funds -- with holdings in Brazil, Russia, India and China -- posted gains of up to 70%.

The BRICs were held back by more concentrated investments. While three of the four countries performed well, a single lagging market hobbled results.

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Energy and basic materials powered all six of the funds. The

SPDR Emerging Europe ETF

(GUR)

has 50% of its assets in Eastern European energy stocks, two-thirds of which are in Russia. Top holdings include energy giants Lukoil Holdings, Gazprom and Rosneft.

Energy was a major driver in the returns of the three BRIC funds. It's the largest sector in each, making up 33% of the value of the

SPDR S&P BRIC ETF

(BIK)

, 28% of the

iShares MSCI BRIC Index Fund

(BKF) - Get Report

and 25% of

Claymore/BNY BRIC ETF

(EEB) - Get Report

.

Still, the BRICs are down by more than a third over the past 12 months, as oil is at half the level of a year ago. The energy-heavy SPDR S&P Emerging Europe ETF has fallen by about 50%.

The best-performing non-leveraged ETF during the three-month rally was the Market Vector Russia ETF RSX, up 110% for the period. It was followed closely by

Claymore/AlphaShares China Real Estate

(TAO) - Get Report

and

iPath MSCI India Index ETN

(INP)

, both of which surged more than 90%.

But the fact that the best-performing Brazilian ETF,

iShares MSCI Brazil

(EWZ) - Get Report

, was far down the list with an advance of 61% shows that one underperformer can put a drag on returns.

Richard Widows is a senior financial analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, Widows was senior product manager for quantitative analytics at Thomson Financial. After receiving an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University in California, his career included development of investment information systems at data firms, including the Lipper division of Reuters. His international experience includes assignments in the U.K. and East Asia.