Making its debut on 04/28/2015, smart beta exchange traded fund iShares MSCI Intl Multifactor ETF (INTF) provides investors broad exposure to the Broad Developed World ETFs category of the market.
What Are Smart Beta ETFs?
Products that are based on market cap weighted indexes, which are strategies designed to reflect a specific market segment or the market as a whole, have traditionally dominated the ETF industry.
Market cap weighted indexes work great for investors who believe in market efficiency. They provide a low-cost, convenient and transparent way of replicating market returns.
If you’re the kind of investor who would rather try and beat the market through good stock selection, then smart beta funds are your best choice; this fund class is known for tracking non-cap weighted strategies.
Non-cap weighted indexes try to choose stocks that have a better chance of risk-return performance, which is based on specific fundamental characteristics, or a mix of other such characteristics.
Methodologies like equal-weighting, one of the simplest options out there, fundamental weighting, and volatility/momentum based weighting are all choices offered to investors in this space, but not all of them can deliver superior returns.
Fund Sponsor & Index
INTF is managed by Blackrock (NYSE:BLK), and this fund has amassed over $926.10 million, which makes it one of the larger ETFs in the Broad Developed World ETFs. This particular fund, before fees and expenses, seeks to match the performance of the MSCI World ex USA Diversified Multi-Factor Index.
The MSCI World ex USA Diversified Multi-Factor Index is designed to select equity securities from MSCI World ex USA Index that have high exposure to four investment style factors: value, quality, momentum and low size, while maintaining a level of risk similar to that of the Parent Index.
Cost & Other Expenses
Investors should also pay attention to an ETF’s expense ratio. Lower cost products will produce better results than those with a higher cost, assuming all other metrics remain the same.
Annual operating expenses for INTF are 0.30%, which makes it on par with most peer products in the space.
INTF’s 12-month trailing dividend yield is 2.08%.
Sector Exposure and Top Holdings
ETFs offer diversified exposure and thus minimize single stock risk, but it is still important to delve into a fund’s holdings before investing. Most ETFs are very transparent products and many disclose their holdings on a daily basis.
The top 10 holdings account for about 21.99% of total assets under management.
Performance and Risk
Year-to-date, the iShares MSCI Intl Multifactor ETF has added about 1.89% so far, and was up about 2.30% over the last 12 months (as of 12/24/2020). INTF has traded between $17.43 and $27.44 in this past 52-week period.
INTF has a beta of 0.90 and standard deviation of 21.23% for the trailing three-year period, which makes the fund a medium risk choice in the space. With about 205 holdings, it effectively diversifies company-specific risk.
IShares MSCI Intl Multifactor ETF is a reasonable option for investors seeking to outperform the Broad Developed World ETFs segment of the market. However, there are other ETFs in the space which investors could consider.
Vanguard Total International Stock ETF (VXUS) tracks FTSE Global All Cap ex US Index and the Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (VEA) tracks FTSE Developed All Cap ex US Index. Vanguard Total International Stock ETF has $35.66 billion in assets, Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF has $85.98 billion. VXUS has an expense ratio of 0.08% and VEA charges 0.05%.
Investors looking for cheaper and lower-risk options should consider traditional market cap weighted ETFs that aim to match the returns of the Broad Developed World ETFs.
To learn more about this product and other ETFs, screen for products that match your investment objectives and read articles on latest developments in the ETF investing universe, please visit Zacks ETF Center.
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