When it rains it pours. And lately, it’s been pouring Middle East-focused exchange-traded funds.
Van Eck Global is the latest provider to introduce an ETF focused on stocks from the Persian Gulf region. The company has launched the Market Vectors – Gulf States Index ETF (MES) on the NYSE Arca.
The fund is linked to the Dow Jones GCC Titans 40 Index and charges annual expenses of 0.98 percent.
The index is broken down among a number of different sectors; the largest include banks (38.5 percent), financial services (21.6 percent), real estate (10.5 percent), technology (7.6 percent), construction and materials (7.2 percent), industrial goods and services (7.1 percent) and telecommunications (3.6 percent).
Companies within the index are either headquartered in countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) or generating the majority of their revenues in countries belonging to the GCC.
By design, the Dow Jones GCC Titans 40 Index restricts the weight of individual stocks at 8 percent in each country, with a maximum of 15 companies per country. Stocks within the index are rebalanced quarterly.
As of mid-July the approximate country allocations were: Kuwait (52.3%), United Arab Emirates (25.8 percent), Qatar (14.9 percent), Oman (4.4 percent) and Bahrain (2.6 percent).
Even though Saudi Arabia is one of the Gulf region’s economic juggernauts, it is omitted because of restrictions on foreign investments.
Top holdings inside MES include Emaar Properties, National Bank of Kuwait and National Industries Group.
Other ETFs offering exposure to Middle East stocks are WisdomTree Middle East Dividend Fund (GULF) and the PowerShares Frontier Portfolio (PMNA).
Ron DeLegge is the San Diego-based editor of www.etfguide.com.