Oh, Canada

11/27/2015 7:00 am EST

Focus: ETFs

Genia Turanova

Editor, Leeb Income Performance

Natural resources, directly and indirectly, account for almost one-fifth of Canada's nominal GDP; as such, it's no surprise that low commodity prices have hurt its economy, leading to the country officially entering a recession this year, notes Genia Turanova, editor of The Complete Investor.

On the other hand, the contraction has been mild, constituting the smallest recession since at least 1981. That's because while energy and resources have suffered, other sectors have continued to grow.

One sign of the economy's underlying strength is that overall employment in Canada hasn't declined. We think the markets have underrated that strength.

This makes Canadian stocks at current levels a relatively low risk way to bet on a recovery in the natural resource sector, making it timely to reiterate our recommendation of iShares MSCI Canada ETF (EWC).

Tracking a wide range of large- and mid-cap Canadian companies, the ETF provides exposure to 85% of the Canadian stock market.

The top five positions, accounting for nearly 30% of total assets, are outside the commodity area, though leveraged to the economy's overall health.

Overall, financials hold the largest weighting, accounting for nearly 39.5% of total assets.

Energy is next, representing almost 20% of market value, followed by materials, industrials, healthcare, consumer discretionary, and consumer staples, ranging from 8% to 5% of total assets.

The ETF trades at an average P/E of about 15.2 and a price-to-book ratio of about 2, not a total bargain, but not expensive either. The yield is 1.7%, while the expense ratio at 0.48% is relatively low. iShares MSCI Canada ETF remains a buy.

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