ETFs Venture Into India

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Investor desire for equity exposure beyond the shores of the United States and other developed markets has led many ETF providers to launch funds aimed at capturing the growth potential of various emerging markets. One popular destination for these sponsors has been India.

Along with China, India has expanded to become one of the dominant emerging economic forces in not only Asia, but the world. This week, the nation has faced a flurry of positive economic news including Monday's October PMI manufacturing score which indicated that its economy continues to gain steam. Noticing the impressive strength of India's economy, the Reserve Bank of India recently took action, raising rates for the sixth time in 2010.

Companies such as Van Eck, WisdomTree, PowerShares, and BlackRock ( BLK) have jumped on board with respective products aimed at tracking this fast-growing nation.

The WisdomTree India Earnings Fund ( EPI), the PowerShares India Portfolio ( PIN) and the iShares S&P India Nifty 50 Index Fund ( INFY) are designed to take a relatively plain-vanilla approach to tracking the Indian economy. The indexes underlying these funds are comprised of the largest and most liquid Indian companies, giving investors exposure to the most influential components of the Indian economy.

EPI, PIN, and INDY share a number of holdings including Reliance Industries, Infosys ( INFY), Oil & Natural Gas Corp, and HDFC Bank ( HDB).

I consider all three of these funds to be well suited for conservative investors seeking exposure to India. However, with 142 positions, versus the 50 underlying PIN and INDY, EPI is my personal choice for seeking the most stable, well-diversified exposure to the Indian economy.

Aside from these broad based funds, there are a number of niche plays investors can consider when seeking India exposure as well.

Whereas EPI, PIN and INDY track the largest and most prominent members of the Indian economy, Van Eck's Market Vectors India Small Cap ETF ( SCIN) takes the opposite approach: tracking the nation's smallest publicly traded companies.

Like the firm's Market Vectors Brazil Small Cap ETF ( BRF), the theory behind SCIN is that by taking a small- cap approach to India's economy, investors can gain access to the companies most influenced by the nation's domestic population.

Among Emerging Global Shares' growing line of sector specific emerging market funds is the EGShares INDXX India Infrastructure Fund ( INXX). Designed to capture the economic development potential of India, INXX tracks companies responsible for constructing the roads, bridges and electrical infrastructure needed to propel India into the 21st century.

Both SCIN and INXX are relatively new to the market and will take some time before they can be considered properly liquid.

One of the more unique ways investors can gain access to India is through the First Trust ISE Chindia Index Fund ( FNI).

Using this fund, it is possible to combine exposure to China and India under one roof. Unlike traditional BRIC funds which usually underweight India and overweight China, FNI attempts to split exposure between the two nations equally. As I highlight in this morning's video, this strategy has paid off well recently. Over the past 30 days FNI has managed to outperform globally concentrated funds such as EPI and iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index Fund ( FXI).

Although they can be more risky than domestic equity and fixed income ETFs, products which track emerging markets such as India and China offer a great chance for investors to venture beyond domestic equities into popular foreign regions of the globe.

Conservative investors would benefit from setting aside a small portion of their diversified portfolio for a fund such as EPI or FNI.

Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

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At the time of publication, Dion Money Management does not have a position in the any of the equities mentioned.

Don Dion is president and founder of Dion Money Management, 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.

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