Under The Hood: The New Nigeria ETF

Finally. That might be the reaction of those traders and investors that like riskier fare as the Global X Nigeria Index ETF (NYSE: NGE) finally debuted Wednesday, nearly two years after the firm initially filed plans for the fund.

Interestingly, Global X was not the first ETF sponsor to file plans for a Nigeria ETF, but the firm can now say it is the first to have introduced such a product. With the debut of the Global X Nigeria Index ETF, Africa, a continent believed by some to be the last great investment frontier, now has three country-specific ETFs.

The Market Vectors Egypt ETF (NYSE:EGPT) and the iShares MSCI South Africa Index Fund (NYSE:EZA) are the other two.

Prior to NGE's debut, the only credible ETF options for Nigeria exposure were the Market Vectors Africa ETF (NYSE:AFK), which allocates nearly a quarter of its weight to the country, and the iShares MSCI Frontier 100 Index Fund (NYSE:FM). That ETF has an almost 13.8 percent weight to Nigeria.

And with the debut of NGE, investors now have another ETF option for getting exposure to the Goldman Sachs Next 11 countries. Nigeria, which is classified as a frontier market, is part of that group.

That is just one anecdote that investors may find attractive about NGE and the Nigerian investment thesis at large. Additionally, Nigeria is the 7th most populous country in the world and the most populous country in Africa with over 160 million people with nearly two-thirds of that population under the age of 25, Global X said citing World Bank data.

Nigeria also hauled in $8.9 billion in foreign direct investment last year, making it Africa's top FDI destination and the government hopes to increase that total to $16 billion this year, according to Global X. Predictably, it is Nigeria's energy industry that is on the receiving end of most foreign investment in the country.

Not only is Nigeria a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, it is Africa's largest oil producer. The country, OPEC's seventh-largest producer, is expected to pump 2.3 million barrels per day this year. Nigerian oil is prized because most of it is of the light, sweet variety, meaning higher quality and lower refining costs.

Given that the energy industry is a vital driver of Nigerian GDP, it is not surprising that NGE allocates more than 24 percent of its weight to the sector. Only financials at 41.3 percent loom larger in the new ETF. As experienced emerging and frontier markets investors know, many of the relevant ETFs for these markets feature large weights to banks and energy names.

NGE does offer some exposure to potential advancements in Nigeria's domestic demand story going forward as consumer discretionary and staples names combine for nearly 25 percent of the ETF's weight. The ETF is home to 28 stocks and half of the top-10 holdings are banks.

Still, investors should know what they are getting with Nigeria and oil simply cannot be left out of the equation. Oil makes up 15 percent of the country's GDP, two-thirds of the country's revenue and over 95 per cent of export earnings, according to Renaissance Capital.

Nigeria's oil industry would arguably even more advanced if not for frequent rebel attacks on oil assets and kidnappings of industry workers there. Western oil majors such as Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A) see vast potential in Nigeria, but have also been forced to deal with substantial risk.

Other risks include severe corruption, lack of government stability and military conflict. On the other hand, Nigeria is moving toward liberalization of its markets. Combine that with the bountiful oil reserves and favorable demographics, and NGE could be worth evaluating.

The new ETF charges 0.68 percent year, making it less expensive than the comparable Egypt fund and the largest China ETF.

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