My pick for the best ETF in 2018 involved a play on international stocks, as global growth trends look good but I anticipated a tougher road for the U.S.
On a macro level, that has largely proven true. We’ve seen a bunch of volatility in domestic stocks since the end of January, thanks in part to uncertainty around interest rates and inflation. At the same time, global growth projections remain strong and the comparatively loose policies at central banks in Europe and Asia seem to be favoring foreign markets.
Of course, that hasn’t shown up yet in the performance of my pick, the Vanguard FTSE All World Ex-U.S. Small Cap ETF (NYSEARCA:VSS). But I fully expect that by year’s end, this fund will be near the top of the pack.
That’s because it seems unlikely for this dynamic to change. Stocks continue to be buoyed by overall bullish sentiment in the U.S., but the continued uncertainty around rising rates and modestly higher inflation has prevented markets from going steadily higher as they have in years past. At the same time, many investment banks have been pointing to Europe and Asia as a decent alternative to the U.S. thanks to better valuations and monetary policy that is still expansionary under the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan.
To be clear, I don’t expect America to crumble and I still expect the S&P 500 index to finish handily in the green this year. But after a very hot 2017 and some admitted difficulties to start 2018, it’s only natural for most investors to start looking for greener pastures.
That hints that the time is still right to invest in Europe via the VSS ETF. Its components are not the large multinationals you’ll find in large-cap ETFs, such as consumer staples giant Nestle SA (OTCMKTS:NSRGY). Rather, the fund holds some 3,500 small caps that are more dependent on their local economies in Europe and Asia and thus insulated from direct troubles that could hold back U.S. companies.
In this interconnected era, you need to have a global footprint with your portfolio anyway. The VSS is a great way to do that without overlapping your existing U.S. equities exposure.
I also happen to think that once Wall Street settles down and investors objectively look at where to put their dollars, VSS will fall into favor and tap into significant outperformance this year.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks. Write him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.