Today Barclays Global Investors' iShares family launched eight international exchange-traded funds on two different exchanges.
The launch can be divided into three buckets: international small cap, real estate, and emerging markets.
The iShares FTSE Developed Small Cap ex-North America Index Fund (IFSM), which debuted on the NASDAQ, makes BGI's first foray into the small-cap international arena. Investors have been increasingly interested in this market as they search out noncorrelated returns. Many believe that small-cap stocks are more closely correlated with local economies than large caps, and will provide more of a diversification benefit.
IFSM will be going up against the SPDR S&P International Small-Cap ETF (AMEX: GWX) and the PowerShares FTSE RAFI Developed Markets ex-U.S. Small-Mid Portfolio (AMEX: PDN). However, the IFSM has an expense ratio of just 0.50% versus GWX's 0.60% and PDN's 0.75%.
Global Real Estate
The iShares launch included four ETFs based on FTSE EPRA/NAREIT real estate indexes, offering region-based exposure to the real estate markets. They are:
- iShares FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Global Real Estate ex-U.S. Index Fund (IFGL)
- iShares FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Asia Index Fund (IFAS)
- iShares FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Europe Index Fund (IFEU)
- iShares FTSE EPRA/NAREIT North America Index Fund (IFNA)
Again, iShares has gone low on price, charging just 0.48% in annual expenses for the funds. That compares with the 0.60% expense ratio for the SPDR Dow Jones Wilshire International Real Estate ETF (RWX) and the 0.58% expense ratio for the WisdomTree International Real Estate ETF (AMEX: DRW).
(There are no comparable regional funds.)
Like IFSM, the new REIT funds launched on the NASDAQ. They are the first iShares funds to launch on the NASDAQ.
Rounding out the launch are three assorted international funds:
- iShares S&P Asia 50 Index Fund (AIA)
- iShares MSCI BRIC Index Fund (BKF)
- iShares MSCI Chile Index Fund (ECH)
The new funds trade on the NYSE Arca exchange. iShares will charge 0.50% for the S&P Asia 50 Fund, 0.75% for the BRIC fund and 0.74% for the Chile fund. Here, the iShares are not always the cheapest option. BKF expense ratio of 0.75%, for instance, compares with the Claymore/BNY BRIC ETF's (EEB) fee of just 0.60%.
|iShares Index Fund||Symbol||Exchange||Expense
|FTSE Developed Small Cap ex-North America||IFSM||NASDAQ||0.50%|
|FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Global Real Estate ex-U.S.||IFGL||NASDAQ||0.48%|
|FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Asia||IFAS||NASDAQ||0.48%|
|FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Europe||IFEU||NASDAQ||0.48%|
|FTSE EPRA/NAREIT North America||IFNA||NASDAQ||0.48%|
|S&P Asia 50||AIA||NYSE Arca||0.50%|
|MSCI BRIC||BKF||NYSE Arca||0.75%|
|MSCI Chile||ECH||NYSE Arca||0.74%|