This is part one of a two-part series on BRIC alternatives.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For many ETF investors, the term "emerging market" brings to mind BRIC funds like iShares MSCI BRIC (BKF) - Get iShares MSCI BRIC ETF Report, Claymore/BNY BRIC (EEB) - Get Invesco BRIC ETF Report and SPDR S&P BRIC 40 (BIK) .
While the BRIC combination of Brazil, Russia, India and China has long been the gold standard of emerging-market investing, other contenders are beginning to enter the field.
Single-country ETFs are allowing investors new access to emerging economies around the globe. In addition to still-strong Russia, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey and South Korea also provide growth opportunities for the risk-tolerant investor.
In this two-part series, we will examine these single-country funds and their potential for the ETF investor. Today we will focus on
Market Vectors Russia
Market Vectors Vietnam
Market Vectors Russia
This fund is Russia, by itself. Investors should see this country, and this fund, as an energy play. While OPEC nations battle about production cuts, Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia in crude oil production during the second quarter of 2009. During this period, daily exports from Russia grew to 7.4 million barrels while Saudi shipments fell by 7 million per day.
RSX is a good play for investors who want to take advantage of Russia's oil opportunities. RSX comprisies publicly traded companies that are domiciled in Russia and traded in Russia and/or on leading global exchanges. The largest sector represented in the fund's portfolio is oil and gas, with a 42.6% allocation.
Year to date, RSX is up more than 92%. As Russia battles the corruption that has plagued its economy, this fund may have even more room to run.
Market Vectors Vietnam
Vietnam may have the potential to be the next China, and the global supply chain is already several years into a shift from China to Vietnam. As China's economy continues to grow, Vietnam has stepped in as the new destination for the type of low-cost manufacturing that helped to make China so successful. (See
Vietnam ETF: Way to Play Booming Nation.)
Shares of VNM provide exposure to publicly traded companies that are domiciled and primarily listed in Vietnam and which generate at least 50% of their revenues from Vietnam.
Also included in the portfolio are non-Vietnamese companies that generate, or are expected to generate, at least 50% of their revenues from Vietnam, or that demonstrate a significant and/or dominant position in the Vietnamese market and are expected to grow. The three largest sectors represented by the portfolio are financials, energy and materials, with 36.7%, 19.1% and 12.3% allocations, respectively.
Market Vectors Vietnam, launched earlier this year, is the first strictly Vietnam ETF for U.S. investors. Since this ETF is so new, trading volume is still low. The combination of low trading volume and Vietnam's total market capitalization of about $20 billion, could make this fund particularly volatile for ETF investors.
Risk-tolerant, emerging-market investors may still want to consider easing their way into VNM in the months to come. Vietnam's economy could be the next China story, and while its smaller population of nearly 90 million means it will never grow to the earthshaking size of China's economy, half of Vietnam's population is under the age of 25. A young population and tremendous growth potential make VNM an ETF to watch.
-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.
At the time of publication, Dion held no positions in stocks mentioned.
Don Dion is president and founder of
, a fee-based investment advisory firm to affluent individuals, families and nonprofit organizations, where he is responsible for setting investment policy, creating custom portfolios and overseeing the performance of client accounts. Founded in 1996 and based in Williamstown, Mass., Dion Money Management manages assets for clients in 49 states and 11 countries. Dion is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and Maine and has more than 25 years' experience working in the financial markets, having founded and run two publicly traded companies before establishing Dion Money Management.
Dion also is publisher of the Fidelity Independent Adviser family of newsletters, which provides to a broad range of investors his commentary on the financial markets, with a specific emphasis on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. With more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and 29 other countries, Fidelity Independent Adviser publishes six monthly newsletters and three weekly newsletters. Its flagship publication, Fidelity Independent Adviser, has been published monthly for 11 years and reaches 40,000 subscribers.