S&P Gets Selective In India

August 27, 2008

New index has size and liquidity screens and adjusts for foreign investment limits.

Given the fact that India—because of its tremendous growth, large population and "BRIC" country status—has been in investors' crosshairs for the past few years, it seems odd that there are not more investable indexes being promoted by the major index providers. Sure, most of them offer some kind of representation of India, but there hasn't been much in the way of high-profile indexes that cover the country's markets. Of the three exchange-traded products that focus on India, only one, the iPath MSCI India ETN (NYSEArca: INP), tracks an index from a major index provider—in this case, MSCI.

Part of the reason for that could be the country's restrictions on foreign investment that limit how much of a company's stock can be owned by international investors. That makes constructing investable indexes rather tricky, and often unique methodologies must be developed to address the issues.

Standard & Poor's has launched a blue-chip index for the Indian market covering 60 of the largest and most liquid stocks available to foreign investors. The S&P India Select Index actually follows on the heels of another narrow S&P index tracking India, but the S&P India 10 Index, as its name implies, contains just 10 components, making it unsuitable to underlie something like an exchange-traded fund.

The S&P India Select Index uses the S&P/IFCI India Index as its selection universe; components must have a minimum of $500 million in float-adjusted market capitalization and a three-month average daily trading value of more than $2 million. They also must be listed on the National Stock Exchange of India, the largest stock exchange in the country with regard to volume and turnover. The weights of individual stocks are capped at 10% of the index, and stocks with weightings of 5% or more cannot represent more than 50% of the index's total weight. The index is rebalanced twice a year. And although it currently includes 60 components, the number of stocks included in the index is not fixed—all stocks meeting the index's criteria are included as components.

The most important feature of the index is probably the fact that it excludes stocks that have reached their foreign investment limits. Indeed, this was a problem for INP, which found itself deviating from its underlying index when the Indian government imposed capital controls not too long ago. Both India-focused ETFs currently trading—the WisdomTree India Earnings (and the PowerShares India Portfolio (NYSEArca: PIN)—were launched after INP first ran into difficulties, and have methodologies that take into account the country's limits on foreign investment.

The main question is what kind of legs this index will have—there are already three exchange-traded products available on the U.S. market, after all. However, it appears that State Street Global Advisors already has a fund in registration that is set to track the S&P India Select Index. (Read the prospectus here.)

Top 10 Components

Company

Weight

Infosys Technologies Ltd

5.49%

Bharti Airtel Ltd

5.48%

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd

5.31%

Reliance Communications Ltd

5.29%

Housing Development Finance

5.23%

Reliance Industries Ltd

4.76%

ICICI Bank Ltd

4.40%

Hindustan Lever Limited

4.17%

Bharat Heavy Electricals

3.71%

Larsen & Toubro Ltd

3.25%

Sector Weights

Sector

Weight

Financials

23.67%

Energy

15.60%

Info Tech

14.42%

Telecom Services

11.72%

Industrials

9.74%

Utilities

9.06%

Materials

7.38%

Consumer Staples

6.88%

Health Care

0.83%

Consumer Discretionary

0.70%

 

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