The BRIC countries are old news. Now every one and their brother is looking for another way to slice and dice the emerging markets. There is the Next 11, CIVETS and even MAVINS. At this point we are not even talking about the frontier markets. The question is whether all this specialization makes sense.
In addition to the above approach which focuses on a subset of countries, there is another approach which focuses on various themes within the emerging markets. Some of the more popular ones include a focus on natural resources, infrastructure and the consumer. With the launch of the Emerging Global Shares Dow Jones Emerging Markets Consumer Titans ETF (ECON) the focus today is on the consumer.
The argument being that focusing on the emerging market consumer is a more pure play on the growth in the emerging markets (see Minyanville, ETFdb, IndexUniverse, EG Shares). This may very well be the case, and this index (and ETF) may outpeform more diversified emerging market indices. However understand that you implicitly you are making a bet against the rest of the emerging markets sectors by focusing on this one.
There are any number of ways to play the emerging markets, with more undoubtedly on the way. For most people however their interest in the emerging markets is a desire for exposure and diversification. In that case the advice of Jerome Booth of Ashmore Investment Management who is quoted at beyondbrics rings most true:
I have never understood why anybody should just invest in 11 countries or four countries. It has never made any sense to me. People should diversify.
However given the performance of the emerging markets of late (see below), don’t expect the search for even hotter alternatives to continue.