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Whatever Happened to the New Nikkei ETF?

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No one knows for sure when or if Japanese stocks will rebound, but we know this much: Precidian MAXIS Nikkei 225 Index ETF was a pleasant surprise among new ETFs in 2011.

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By most accounts, 2011 was not the year to invest in Japan. The natural disasters that struck the country in March made a tough investing climate that much harder to navigate, and proving that the world's third-largest economy has problems that run far deeper than those that can be blamed on earthquakes and tsunamis, US-listed ETFs tracking Japan are lower today than they were in March immediately following the tragedies.

In fact, the iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund (EWJ), the largest Japan-specific ETF, is off almost 19% year-to-date and trading within pennies of its 52-week low. That's not good and it raises the question: Whatever happened to the Precidian MAXIS Nikkei 225 Index ETF (NKY)?

The Precidian MAXIS Nikkei 225 Index ETF made its debut in July, becoming the first ETF to track the Nikkei 225 Index. As one might imagine, the ETF has fallen since then, but with a year-to-date loss of 13%, the new fund has proven to be a better option than the iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund.

Okay, that may not be saying much, but Precidian MAXIS Nikkei 225 Index ETF does deserve some credit for raking in $162.6 million in assets under management. That's good for any new ETF in 2011, and it's especially impressive when factoring weakness in Japanese stocks and the fact that Precidian is currently a one-ETF shop.

With an expense ratio of 0.5%, NKY gives double-digit allocations to three sectors – industrials, consumer discretionary, and technology. Fortunately, financials account for just 6.4% of the ETF's weight.

Oddly enough, Honda Motor (HMC) is one of the ETF's top-10 holdings, but Toyota (TM) is not. That's more an observation than a knock against the fund.

Past performance is no indicator of future returns, but if Japanese stocks do rebound in 2012, it can be said that the Precidian MAXIS Nikkei 225 Index ETF is the preferred ETF with which to play that theme. After all, not only has it sharply outpaced the iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund this year, but it has also left the WisdomTree Japan SmallCap Dividend ETF (DFJ) and the SPDR Russell/Nomura PRIME Japan ETF (JPP) in its wake.

The bottom line is no one knows for sure when or if Japanese stocks will rebound, but we know this much: Precidian MAXIS Nikkei 225 Index ETF was a pleasant surprise among new ETFs in 2011. Over $162 million in AUM is a testament to that fact.

Editor's Note: This content was originally published on Benzinga.com by The ETF Professor.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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