Make Way for Norway ETF

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- iShares launched a second to market Norway ETF earlier this week. A little over a year ago Global X launched the FTSE Norway 30 ETF ( NORW) and this week we now have the iShares MSCI Norway Capped Investable Market Index Fund ( ENOR).

The funds are of course are similar but not identical. The new iShares fund is much heavier in energy at 52% than NORW from Global X which allocates 39% to energy. ENOR allocates 12% to financials, 8% to materials and telecom before the sector weights get smaller from there.

Statoil ( STO) is of course the largest single holding at 22% of the fund. Telenor has an 8% weight followed by Seadrill ( SDRL) at 7%. Seadrill is an interesting choice because it is headquartered in Bermuda even though most of its operations are in Norway. SDRL has an 8.5% yield, which might be why it has been included as it could give ENOR an attractive yield. Because ENOR is so new there is no yield information yet available on the iShares website.

From the top down Norway's economy is unique these days for being a developed nation with a budget surplus, no net debt (its Sovereign wealth fund exceeds its debt outstanding), a high per capita income and Norway scores highly in every quality of life survey. The country's fortunes benefited from finding oil in the North Sea and the prosperity should continue thanks to recent natural gas finds.

The long-term prospects for Norway are very promising and it has been a staple in our firm's client portfolios since 2004.

Each of the two Norway funds can serve a unique role in a diversified portfolio. NORW from Global X is a broader fund more along the lines of the S&P 500 because of its somewhat broader sector weightings. The application of this type of fund would be for a portfolio that does not focus on sector decisions but instead goes broader, to the country level.

ENOR from iShares can be thought of as more of a proxy for natural resources. Energy and materials add up to 60% of the fund. Country funds with disproportionately large weights to specific sectors are often criticized but the sectors weights can make it easier to build a portfolio. The weighting of energy in ENOR is enough that it will track energy prices. iShares MSCI Singapore Index Fund ( EWS) is a good proxy for financial stocks because of that sector's weighting and similarly iShares MSCI Taiwan Index Fund ( EWT) is a good proxy for technology.

The news this week that the Federal Reserve Bank will keep rates between 0-25 basis points until at least late 2014 sets what is potentially a very unfavorable tone for US equities making the need for foreign investing all the more important for portfolio success and funds like the ones offering access to Norway and its very healthy tone merits consideration.

Disclosure: STO client holding

Roger Nusbaum is a portfolio manager with Your Source Financial of Phoenix, and the author of Random Roger's Big Picture Blog. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Nusbaum appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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