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押注日本有新招

Colin Barr 2011年07月26日

如果你正在考虑押注日本,可以考虑一下新的、更容易的方式。

    本月,一支新的交易所交易基金,Maxis 日经225指数基金(Maxis Nikkei 225 index fund)闪亮登场,该基金与日本备受追捧的日经225指数挂钩,并已于七月上旬上市交易,交易代码为NKY。

    This month marks the debut of an exchange-traded fund that tracks Japan's most widely followed stock index. The Maxis Nikkei 225 index fund, listed under ticker NKY, began trading last week.

已经具备反弹的条件了吗?

    日本这一世界第三大经济实体正在竭力走出三月地震和海啸的阴影,该基金的上市为投资者提供了一个更便捷的方式来押注日本公司,因此吸引了不少眼球。这个消息对美国的重要性在于,经济学家们正合什祈祷日本的强力复苏将帮助美国避免再次陷入经济衰退。

    值得关注的另一个原因是,该基金是目前新产品泛滥的市场中罕见的香草型交易所交易基金(ETF),这些新产品让投资者能利用杠杆效应押注首次公开募股的互联网公司——因为,风险远没有说的那么恐怖。

    “不能一直忽视日本,”Precidian投资公司的负责人之一斯图尔德托马斯说。该公司主要致力于ETF基金的开发。该公司的投资商们还推出了广受欢迎的SPDR黄金股(SPDR Gold Shares )ETF基金产品,交易代码为GLD。

    公允地说,日本的股票风险并未完全拖垮ETF基金投资者。交易代码为EWJ的iShares 摩根士丹利资本国际日本指数(iShares MSCI Japan index)已有15年的历史,其资产额已达80亿美元。这是个不错的产品,它的费用率与Maxis基金大致相当,每百美元管理资产的费用约为50美分。与此类似的还有比较冷门的智慧树日本对冲股票基金(Wisdom Tree Japan Hedged Equity fund),其交易代码为DXJ。

    但别忘了,长期以来忽略日本股票一直都是对的。过去的20年中,日本股票市值已经跌去3/4。虽然过往业绩并不能代表未来的表现,可面对如此惨淡的历史,人们很难视而不见。

    尽管如此,对于关注日本股票的人来说,日经指数是个耳熟能详的名字,托马斯也希望自己的基金藉此在今后的一段时间内能吸引一大批拥趸。他说,第一周,基金募集的资产总额就达到了7,500万美金。这在行业里是非常不错的成绩,因为目前充斥该行业的是追踪俄罗斯股指的合成ETF基金(吸引投资者的是,这些基金持有掉期合约,而非真正的股票)以及提供蒙古必配股票交易机会的基金。

    托马斯还说,“一些刚上市的ETF基金因为我们这种良好的反馈情况会给予投资者一些好处”。

    过去的10年中,ETF基金的发展可谓是欣欣向荣。最近,其资产总值已经超过1万亿美元。投资者蜂拥至,原因是ETF产品(目前有1,300多个)为投资者提供了以低成本投资一系列不同资产类别和主题的机会,这使得注重投资多样化的投资者可以把鸡蛋放在各种不同的篮子里。

    与此同时,尽管日本在过去几十年中一直处于低迷时期,而且其股市回报率也低得可怜,但它仍是世界上仅次于美国和中国的第三大经济实体,同时拥有全球第三大的股市(仅次于纽约和伦敦)。

    然而,由于牌照争议,日经225指数这一与道琼斯工业平均指数(Dow Jones Industrial Average)齐名的股指错过了ETF基金的大好时光。托马斯说,两年前三菱(Mitsubishi)曾与Precidian公司就此事进行过接触,此后,他们一直在与证券交易委员会(Securities and Exchange Commission )的官员合作,以推动该基金上市。

    尽管日本经济长时间萎靡不振,但由于策略师们最近对于日本的股市十分看好,因此此次上市可谓是恰逢其时。高盛(Goldman Sachs)认为,最近的事实明确显示,日本公司的盈利情况要好于该国整体的经济状况,这也就意味着日本股市也将从中受益。

    “市场对于去年的公司盈利回升反应平平”,三菱UFJ证券(Mitsubishi UFJ Securities)股权销售执行总监格里高利•斯坦内克说。

    他认为经济正逐步走向常态,尽管意义优先。除此之外,日本大型出口商的强劲势头【索尼(Sony, SNE),丰田(Toyota, TM)以及本田(Honda,HMC)】以及美元对日元汇率的下跌将进一步为日本股市带来利好消息。

    “我是既乐观又谨慎,”斯坦内克说。如果你也有同感,而且对这个不大可能有圆满结局的故事仍抱有希望,NKY可能是个不错的选择。

    The launch is noteworthy because it gives investors an easy way to wager on corporate Japan at a time when the world's third-biggest economy is trying to bounce back from March's devastating earthquake and tsunami. That story is important here because economists are crossing their fingers that a robust recovery there will keep the United States from stumbling into a new downturn.

    It's also worth watching because it marks a rare plain vanilla ETF offering at a time when the industry is awash in new products enabling users to place leveraged bets on Internet initial public offerings, for instance – because hey, those aren't nearly risky enough as it is.

    "You can't just keep ignoring Japan," says Stuart Thomas, a principal at Precidian, an exchange-traded funds developer whose backers brought you the popular SPDR Gold Shares exchange-traded product that trades under GLD.

    To be fair, ETF buyers haven't really been stranded when it comes to Japanese equity exposure. The iShares MSCI Japan index, which trades under EWJ, has been around for 15 years and has gathered $8 billion in assets. It's a fine product whose expense ratio, at about 50 cents for every hundred dollars in assets under management, is in line with the Maxis fund. There is also the less popular Wisdom Tree Japan Hedged Equity fund that trades under DXJ.

    And let's not forget that ignoring Japan has been a pretty good idea for quite a long time. Japanese stocks have lost three-quarters of their value over the past 20 years, and while past performance is no guarantee of future results it is sort of hard to turn a blind eye to a track record that sorry.

    Be that as it may, the Nikkei is the household name for those watching Japanese stocks, which gives Thomas hope that his fund will over time attract a substantial following. He says the fund gathered $75 million in assets in its first week. That is a standout response in an industry characterized increasingly by synthetic ETFs tracking Russia (charmingly they hold swaps, not actual stocks) and funds offering the must-have of all must-haves, exposure to Mongolia.

    "Some of the startup ETFs would give one of their appendages for the sort of response we have had," Thomas says.

    The ETF industry has boomed over the past decade, recently passing $1 trillion in assets. Investors have flooded into the sector because exchange-traded products – there are more than 1,300 by now by one count -- offer a low-cost way to gain exposure to a wide range of asset classes and themes, enabling the diversification-minded saver to put eggs in lots of different baskets.

    Meanwhile Japan, despite its well publicized lost decades and pathetic equity market returns, remains the third-biggest economy on the planet, after the United States and China, and the home of the world's third-biggest stock market (after New York and London).

    Yet the Nikkei 225, the Japanese equivalent of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, has sat out the ETF boom, thanks to licensing disputes. Thomas says Mitsubishi approached Precidian two years ago and the sides have been working together and with regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission since to bring the fund to market.

    The timing is good because despite Japan's long-running malaise, strategists have been talking up Japanese stocks lately. Goldman Sachs contends Japanese stocks could benefit from a syndrome all too evident on these shores recently: corporate earnings aren't anywhere near as sorry as the state of the economy.

    "The profit rebound last year wasn't recognized by the market," says Gregory Stanek, executive director of equity sales at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities.

    He believes the economy is returning to normal, for what that's worth. What's more, the strength of the nation's big exporters (from Sony (SNE) and Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC) on down) and the probable depreciation of the dollar against the yen could further aid Japanese stocks.

    "I'm cautiously optimistic," Stanek says. If you share his sentiment and like buying into an unlikely resurrection story, NKY could be the way to play it.

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