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Fund Watch

An Easy Way to Invest in India's Hot Stock Market

This high-risk exchange-traded fund lets you buy into a fast-growing emerging nation.

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India is hot. Over the past year, the MSCI India index returned 21.2%, way ahead of the 0.8% gain in the MSCI Emerging Markets index.

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To what does India owe its strong results? Actually, it’s to whom, says Jeremy Schwartz, director of research at WisdomTree, which runs exchange-traded funds. Last year, the new prime minister, Narendra Modi, ushered in business-friendly reforms, such as corporate tax cuts, that have boosted investor confidence in the country. India, a big oil importer, has also benefited from falling crude prices. Kiplinger’s projects that India’s economy will expand by nearly 7% in 2015.

If you are intrigued but worry that it may be too late to invest, you may want to consider WisdomTree India Earnings (Symbol EPI). The ETF tracks an index that weights stocks by earnings over the past 12 months rather than by market value (which is more typical of index funds), and it rebalances once a year. Schwartz says the approach reduces exposure to pricey stocks. India Earnings trades at 15 times profits over the past year, compared with a price-earnings ratio of 20 for the average India stock ETF.

Holding 233 stocks, this ETF offers exposure to a broad swath of India’s market. But like any single-country fund, India Earnings is not for the faint of heart. Over the past five years, the fund has been 51% more volatile than the MSCI Emerging Markets index. In calendar 2011, it posted a ghastly 40.4% loss.

All data through March 31. *Assumes reinvestment of all dividends and capital gains; three- and five-year returns are annualized. Market correction is from April 29 through October 3, 2011. #Exchange-traded note. -- Not available; fund not in existence for the entire period. Expense ratio is the percentage of assets claimed annually for operating a fund. Source:© 2015 Morningstar Inc.