Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Peru ETF (EPU) launched Monday, June 22

Peru's first exchange traded fund, MSCI All Peru Capped Index Fund (EPU), started trading yesterday, Monday June 22, 2009.

Seeking Alpha Reports:

The iShares MSCI All Peru Capped Index Fund (EPU) will allow US investors to easily access one of Latin America's hottest markets by tracking a pure free float market cap weighted index. Its 25 names are heavily concentrated in the materials sector (65%), with a particular focus on gold, silver, and copper. Its largest holding at 19% Cia De Minas Buenaventur (BVN) who produced nearly half a million ounces of gold last year (compared to Goldcorp's 2.4), and its second largest at 15% is Southern Copper (PCU), the biggest player in the world's fourth largest copper producing nation.

The fund also holds an 11% weighting in Credicorp (BAP) - Peru's largest financial firm with operations in commercial banking, insurance, and investment banking - whose shares have held up well during the crisis, and several smaller miners with operations in lead, zinc, and iron.


Now then... it is time for a few "million dollar questions.

a) Does this ETF facilitate investment in Peruvian equities for international investors?
Yes, as one of the world's best performing benchmarks of the year, loaded with companies seeing gains of well over 60-70% from the beginning of 2009, it will indeed offer investors a way to tap into these companies not listed via ADR's or OTC.

b) Does this ETF accurately track a Peruvian benchmark , like the Lima General Index?
Time will tell. ETF's always claim that they do, but I won't fully believe it until I see hard data supporting such. This ETF does not track Peru's Lima General Index, but rather MSCI All Peru Capped Index. Click here to access a PDF that explains the methodology behind MSCI All Peru Capped Index.

c) Is now the right time to invest?

Here are some factors to consider when doing your own due diligence:
  • Markets around the world are down and it seems the downward trends in recent markets might continue throughout the summer months.
  • Copper, gold and silver have already had pretty amazing run ups in recent months and are Peru's crown jewels of commodity exports (yes there are others like zinc, but lets emphasize these major Peruvian money makers for the time being).
  • Volatility due to the political risk associated with the upcoming Peruvian elections in 2011 which pit two extreme candidates of the left and right against one another. Ollanta Humala, the left-wing buddy of Chavez and Keiko Fujimori, right wing, daughter of former president & dictator Alberto Fujimori.
  • Recent political unrest in the Amazon region which only calmed down after heated disputes between the government and indigenous protesters lead the deaths of many Peruvian police officers and the massacre of protesters, forced to rely on wooden spears to defend themselves against high powered weapons. *** Note, this is the opinion of this sites humble and open minded Peruvian-American blogger, who can trace his ancestry on his maternal grandfathers side back to the amazon provinces of San Martin and Amazonas, Peru.
  • Perceived instability (political and financial) as a result of plummiting approval ratings of President Alan Garcia, who was instrumental is creating the climate for the recent protests in the Amazon--contrary to the popular belief of those who believe his propaganda. Garcia's administration loves to blame Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales for everything wrong with Peru and as crazy as it might be, it is a great deal like Ahmadinejad in Iran who blames the West whenever something goes wrong.
I have used this statement from Iran's state television station about the protests occurring right now to articulate my point.

"At least 10 people were killed in the latest unrest to shake Tehran (Bagua), state television said on Sunday as Iranian leaders (President Garcia's administration) took aim at Western "meddling" (Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales "meddling") in the post-election tumult (Peruvian Amazon Region) that has triggered the worst crisis since the Islamic revolution (the worst political unrest in his Presidential Term).

Invest wisely my friends! More to come on this topic at the end of the week.

Analysis by Benito