Ways To Play India

By Sham Gad | January 18, 2010 AAA

With all the talk about investing in China, many folks often place in India in the second tier category. While it's indeed true that India has lagged behind China in developing its infrastructure, the country is poised to grow for years to come. Add in the enormous talent pool of engineers coming out of that country each and every year and the country deserves to be on your radar as much as China. Despite the sizzling market return in India last year, there are some great ETFs to consider as a way to play India, but before we get into the details you may want to check out The Indian Stock Market 101.

IN PICTURES: Eight Ways To Survive A Market Downturn

Powering Ahead
The PowerShares India (NYSE:PIN) is an excellent choice for a broad exposure to India's most well-known companies. Indian outsourcing powerhouse Infosys Technologies (NASDAQ:INFY) accounts for 10% of the ETF's holdings. Recently, Infosys reported better-than-expected third-quarter results and surprised analysts by lifting its expectations for the full year. Such a move helped lift the shares of Infosys, which of course benefits PIN due to its outsized position in the company.

PIN's largest holding is Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries. The average P/E ratio of the ETF's holding is about 19, not cheap by any metric, but palatable for the phenomenal growth you're getting over a period of years. (For more, see Getting On The Right Side Of The P/E Ratio Trend.)

Gotta Pay to Play
Unfortunately, the India story is no hidden secret thanks to a surge in equity prices in 2009. The PowerShares India ETF and rival WisdomTree India (NYSE:EPI) both trade at slight premiums to net asset value, each at about 3%. WisdomTree's P/E is less than 14 against PowerShares 19 multiple. Both ETF prices have more than doubled from their 52-week lows and investors would be hard-pressed to see such similar returns in 2010. No one said it was cheap to party with the "in" crowd. However, these ETFs seem to be the most advantageous way to play India. Indian banking giant ICICI (NYSE:IBN) has more than tripled in the past year and trades for over 26 times earnings. Owing an Indian basket looks like the better value play.

Tigers and Elephants
India, China and other developing countries are no longer a secret for investors. It's widely recognized that any long-term portfolio should have exposure in these economies in one way or another. For many investors, the ETF is the best option at the present time. (For more, see 3 Steps To A Profitable ETF Portfolio.)

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