I have regularly observed on various forums online the desire for investors to seek the best Vietnam ETF for exposure to the Vietnam index, or the VN-Index as it is well known as. However many investors have made the mistake that any sort of Vietnam ETF should produce returns very similar to this widely quoted Vietnam stock market index, that is the VN-Index that you usually see quoted in the relevant news stories.
In this blog post I wanted to get rid of various misconceptions many have about how one can best invest in the Vietnam stock market index.
HOW TO BEST INVEST IN THE VIETNAM STOCK MARKET INDEX
- Know precisely what Vietnam index you are investing in. (there are numerous different ones!)
- Understand that sometimes a Vietnam index is created for foreign structures or Vietnam domestic structures.
- Also understand that those ETFs listed on the Vietnam stock exchange are better equipped to buy Vietnam stocks where foreign ownership limits (FOLs) are nearly full.
- Note that further differing in Vietnam stock index performances will occur because some may focus on top 20, or 50, or even 100 stocks etc.
- Be aware that many of these indices that are created stipulate that certain size and liquidity of stocks are needed to be included. Some indices may specify weights can be capped.
- Also note that the competition of active Vietnam stock market funds is still immature compared to developed markets. They therefore are in a good position to take advantage of their knowledge of the above Vietnam stock market indexes and flows etc.
Therefore taking into account the above points, we can see how it is quite possible that some Vietnam ETFs tracking certain indexes that are created, may perform extremely different to the widely quoted VN-Index. Which leads to the obvious question..
WHAT IS THE VN-INDEX?
The VN-Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all of the companies listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange. It commenced way back in July 2000, with a base value of 100.
Note that the above definition of the VN-Index mentions it includes all of the companies listed there.
is there an index fund in vietnam?
The answer therefore to the question in the heading, when assuming one is referring to the widely quoted VN-Index, is that we don’t have an ETF product that I am aware of that exactly tracks the VN-Index.
This whole issue recently resurfaced in my mind again when reading various forums with discussions on the The VanEck Vietnam ETF (VNM) listed in the US.
I see many US based investors rightly point out the historical poor performance of this ETF. However as a result they sometimes wrongly conclude that the Vietnam stock market has been a poor performer in the last decade.
If you bring up a chart of the VN-Index over the last 10 years, clearly the Vietnam market has done ok.
how do you buy the vn-index?
Given the lack of an ETF that I am aware of that can track the VN-Index, I would be cautious about settling for other Vietnam ETFs that you do not fully understand the structures.
You ideally need to be well informed about the points on the list I made above for starters.
Another good place to take more of a deep dive about the various range of Vietnam indexes that have been created, is a blog post of mine from last year reviewing all of the Vietnam ETFs I could find at the time. I shall place the link below here:
The reality is the Vietnam stock market has not been one where it has been easy in the last decade to capitalize on the positive market trend by owning one simple low cost ETF that is super large and liquid and everyone acknowledges is the best way to go.
That is, things are very different therefore to the US market in that regard. Obviously one could have just picked out an extremely low cost S&P500 ETF a decade ago and got all the benefits efficiently of capturing the wider market’s strong returns.
vietnam stock market returns 2022
All of these issues have been even more on my mind when last month I wrote an article for the Seeking Alpha website reviewing the VanEck Vietnam ETF (VNM). Its performance certainly differs greatly from the good looking chart of the last decade of the VN-Index.
Due to the guidelines from Seeking Alpha when I let them have exclusive access to the article I can’t copy and paste the entire article here.
However I can provide a very brief excerpt and link to the article. It is my understanding that those who are free members of Seeking Alpha have access to about 5 articles a month before the paywall comes up. Therefore I thought it was useful to share the link on my blog here, as it should be simple to sign up if you haven’t already got access. Apologies though if you happen not to want to be a free Seeking Alpha member or have hit your article limit for the time being.
Nonetheless I thought my readers might be interested in the earlier additional points I made above about such a wide range of different Vietnam stock indices being available and differing returns they can produce.
Probably the main reason in giving the article to Seeking Alpha as my blog hardly has any audience so I don’t get any comments pushing back with the bearish case. Whereas Seeking Alpha has a very large audience to reach. The internet being the internet there is a fair chance many commenters there might want to pick holes in all my arguments!
As an investor, it is always good to pay attention to the other sides of your investment position.
Below is the actual article for those who can access and are interested:
The VanEck Vietnam ETF: – Review Of Performance
- The VanEck Vietnam ETF is popular with investors looking for Vietnam stock market exposure. This is due to its long history and US listing, rather than successful performance.
- A significant portion of the fund holds equities with listings outside of Vietnam. This ETF can experience difficulty investing in Vietnam stocks with Foreign Ownership Limits.
- Compared to placing your faith in an active equities fund manager in the US, you can make solid arguments that many Vietnam active managers can justify their fees.
- There are numerous tailwinds for Vietnam stocks. The VanEck Vietnam ETF should therefore produce better returns going forward, even if it still underperforms other fund managers.
VNM ETF summary
The VanEck Vietnam ETF (BATS:VNM) according to its latest fact sheet, “seeks to replicate as closely as possible, before fees and expenses, the price and yield performance of the MVIS Vietnam Index (MVVNMTR), which includes securities of publicly traded companies that are incorporated in Vietnam or that are incorporated outside of Vietnam but have at least 50% of their revenues/related assets in Vietnam.”
A key point here is that this ETF may hold stocks that are not listed in Vietnam. In fact, the latest monthly update for July 31st shows more than 17% of the fund is listed offshore.
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