Analyst: Beware popular Japan ETF

Investors may be tempted by this rock star fund, but the outlook may not be so bright.

By Benzinga May 24, 2013 10:06AM

Japan (© Stockbyte/SuperStock)By The ETF Professor


Following Thursday's savage plunge that saw Japanese stocks notch their worst one-day performance in more than two years, it is no surprise that ETFs focused on the world's third-largest economy are tumbling today.


That group includes the WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (DXJ), an ETF that has gained rock star status in 2013 as the yen has plunged, boosting Japanese stocks in the process (see Benzinga).


DXJ was down about 4.3% Thursday, but that was an improvement from its worst levels of the day of more than an 8% plunge. Before Thursday, DXJ was up a jaw-dropping 28.4% in the past three months. Now home to almost $10.8 billion in assets under management, DXJ has been the top asset-gathering ETF in the world this year.


Following the turbulence for Japan ETFs on Thursday, one analyst is expressing a cautious view on DXJ.


"Investors should not just chase top performers this year and this is a good example," said S&P Capital Director of ETF Research Todd Rosenbluth. "This should be a satellite holding not a core one though it has a low beta."


In fairness to DXJ, it is not the only Japan ETF that traded noticeably lower Thursday. The rival iShares MSCI Japan ETF (EWJ), which has almost $12.6 billion in AUM, was down 5.4%. The iShares S&P/TOPIX 150 Index Fund (ITF) was being dragged lower by the steep decline in Japan's TOPIX Index. ITF, previously one of the undervalued but stellar Japan ETFs was down 6.3% (see Benzinga).


After this year's surge, some Japanese stocks that are major components of the aforementioned ETFs may be overvalued, according to Rosenbluth.


In reference to DXJ, he said "Though we still like this ETF, many holdings are fairly or overvalued like Canon, Honda (HMC) and Toyota (TM)."


Those stocks combine for just more than 11% of DXJ's weight and about 10.5% of EWJ's weight.


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