New Emerging-Market Bond ETF Offers Twist

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- One of the benefits of ETF proliferation is access to previously difficult-to-reach market segments for individual investors.

The latest example is the Market Vectors Emerging Market Bond ETF ( EMLC). There are already two emerging-market bond ETFs, but the iShares JP Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond Fund ( EMB) and PowerShares Emerging Markets Sovereign Debt Portfolio ( PCY) hold bonds denominated in U.S. dollars. The new Market Vectors fund is the first ETF to hold bonds denominated in the currencies of the issuing countries.

Country weightings range from 3% to 10%. The countries with 10% are Brazil, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, South Africa and Thailand. Indonesia and Turkey each have 8% weights, so 76% of the fund is in just eight countries. While the process is multifactor, it boils down mostly to giving the largest weightings to the countries with the largest debt outstanding -- which could be a drag on the fund in an investment world that has a greater awareness of sovereign debt levels. For example, Brazil has a 60% debt-to-gross domestic product level and Malaysia's debt-to-GDP is around 54%. While both are well below many of the developed markets believed to be most at risk of debt problems, a country such as Chile with only 7% debt-to-GDP is not in the fund at all.

The largest holdings show as being a Thailand bond maturing in 2018 at a 7% weight and a Malaysian bond at a 6% weight. One oddity in the holdings for now is that almost 20% of the fund is in AAA paper from such issuers as Rabobank and European Investment Bank, which appear to not be emerging-market bonds. Actually they are loans made in local currencies to countries represented in the index underlying the fund, and the holdings are temporary. The fund is brand-new; as it attracts assets, the plan is that new assets will go into sovereign issues and these AAA-rated bonds will be removed.

If you liked this article you might like

Emerging Market Debt Holders Beware

EMLC: Large Inflows Detected At ETF

Ukraine's Lesson for Investors: Know What's in Your ETFs

Why It Pays to Own These Emerging Markets Bonds

Overseas Bond ETFs Get More Sophisticated

Overseas Bond ETFs Get More Sophisticated