New Gulf States / North Africa Frontier Market ETF

Posted by Bull Bear Trader | 7/10/2008 07:12:00 AM | , , | 0 comments »

IndexUniverse is reporting the offering of a new frontier markets ETF on the Nasdaq: the PowerShares MENA Frontier Countries Portfolio (PMNA). The PMNA will track the Nasdaq OMX Middle East North Africa Index, which includes the countries of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Claymore recently offered the Claymore/BNY Mellon Frontier Markets ETF (FRN) on the Amex, which is more global given that in also includes countries in Asia, Europe, and Latin America, along with the Middle East and Africa. As a result of its focus, the PMNA is a little more concentrated in oil-rich countries. In a recent post we discussed the new Gulf States index launched by S&P, called the GCC 40, covering 40 stocks from the Gulf Cooperation Council. Of interest is that this index covers some of the same region as as the PMNA, but is focused more on financial companies, and less on crude oil and industrial companies.

The PMNA ETF may be of interest to those investors looking to participate in the growth of the oil-rich gulf states that are themselves in the process of reinvesting capital. Furthermore, some analysts have recently discussed how Africa could be one of the next regions for growth. If this is the case, then Northern Africa would be a good place to start investment in this continent.

Also, for those who are interested, there is a distinction between emerging and frontier markets. The term emerging market was first introduced by the World Bank and is often used to describe a country with an economy that is in the process of rapid industrialization, and one that usually finds itself between developing and developed status. The term frontier market is often used to describe equity markets of smaller and less accessible countries of the developing world, yet still investable. Frontier markets are essentially "pre-emerging" markets that are expected to be classified as emerging markets once capital and liquidity increase. Frontier markets could have a high level of development, but still be too small to be considered emerging (for instance, the Baltic States, such as Estonia and Lithuania). They could also be countries where investment restrictions have started to loosen, allowing companies to be investable (such as countries in the Gulf States), or be countries with lower levels of development than similar regional emerging markets (such as Vietnam and Pakistan). As to be expected, frontier markets in general may offer higher return and longer-term growth, but will also carry more risk.