IGF). They describe this exchange-tracker as a low-cost income generator for tapping an underrepresented sector; that is, a 4% yield is a phenomenal payment for holding a number of premier firms engaged in handling toll roads, railroads, potable water, waste-water and electricity. The problem with Morningstar's assessment is threefold. First, there may always be a need for infrastructure improvement, but that does not guarantee profitable suppliers willing to fill the demand. The same case has been made previously with respect to food via "millions of more mouths to feed." Yet, agribusiness funds like Market Vectors Agribusiness ( MOO) have struggled since their inception.
Secondly, Morningstar is ignoring the potentially damaging impact that rising rates could have on an ETF with heavy exposure to utilities and master limited partnerships. While central banks around the world are likely to keep interest rates contained for a while longer, ETFs like IGF simply do not respond well to rapid spikes. Third, the price ratio between IGF and the iShares All-World Index Fund ( ACWI) demonstrates a persistent lack of momentum. Seeking "alpha" is dandy when alpha actually exists. In this instance, I'm not certain the asset class is distinct, nor am I confident that it adds value up and above the "beta" provided by ACWI.
Granted, if you choose to fall in love with infrastructure as a concept -- if you choose to marry a theme the way the aforementioned prospective client chose emerging market exclusivity -- IGF is probably better than the infrastructure alternatives. I agree with the folks at Morningstar that IGF is probably more desirable than SPDR FTSE/Macquarie Global Infrastructure 100 ( GII). For the time being, however, infrastructure investments are likely to drag on portfolio performance, not benefit the exchange-traded fund enthusiast. Follow @etfexpert This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.