Contrarian investing is a well-known strategy in which an investor takes a position contrary to the majority of the investing world or against any prevailing trends. The methodology was perhaps stated best by Warren Buffett, who told investors to “be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” While it can often be tough to go against the grain, contrarian-style investments often have large upside potential, making them especially attractive allocations.
Below, we outline three ETFs that contrarians may want to consider for their portfolios [for more ETF news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
India Small Cap on the Cheap
As a cornerstone emerging market, many investors have been enticed by India’s rapidly expanding economy in recent years. The small cap sector, though risky, often comes with a larger upside potential, drawing investors in. Thus far in 2013, the two small cap ETFs focused on India, the India Small-Cap Index ETF (SCIF, B-) and India Small Cap ETF (SCIN, C), have struggled, falling well behind the large cap MSCI India Index ETN (INP, C+). Both of the aforementioned small cap products are down over 55% this year while INP is down just 23% by comparison.
From a long-term perspective, India’s small cap sector looks poised to soar, despite volatility in the last few years. Investors looking to make a quality buy-and-hold decision should give these two products a close look, as both are sitting near all-time lows but have sky-high potential for the future.
Silver: The Age-Old Debate
Precious metals lovers are quick to hype silver for its long-term upside potential. But the past few years have seen the metal struggle, infected with vicious volatility. Silver is still well off of its historical highs that came nearly three decades ago and prices are currently as low as they have been in just under three years. The iShares Silver Trust (SLV, C+) has been trending down for some time, but that may present investors with the entry point they need.
Silver and SLV carry a unique investing methodology that few other commodities can boast; the white metal is both a safe haven and an industrial product. Silver is often a place where investors run when things look grim or inflation fears tick higher. At the same time, an improved economy can send prices higher as industrial demand for the metal spikes. Currently, silver is stuck somewhere in limbo as it is struggling to identify with either category. Once that shifts, it will likely be too late to find a rosy entry point, making SLV a compelling buy in today’s market.
Everyone Hates the Yen
The Japanese yen has had quite the struggle over the last few years, as an anemic economy has failed to bolster the currency. As such, the yen has been one of the hardest hit currencies out there. The monetary policy of the Japanese has been quite loose, with a number of asset-purchasing programs in place that have artificially lowered the yen. For now, a lower yen will help Japan grow because it is forced to import many of its resources and goods. Once the economy begins to pick up, however, monetary policy will likely tighten up and the yen will rise to a more natural level.
The economy has already shown a few sparks of life, with GDP growth increasing threefold last quarter. For the contrarians at heart, the CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust (FXY, C+) is your best bet. The fund is sitting near five year lows, presenting a great entry point. Note that as a currency, this pick will be particularly volatile, but the upside could be quite handsome for anyone willing to stomach the volatility.
Follow me on Twitter @JaredCummans.
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.