TIP SHEET: AMIDEX35 Gives Everyday Investor A Share Of Israel
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES , April 29, 2010 April 29, 2010 3:00 p.m. EDT TIP SHEET: Amidex35 Gives Everyday Investor A Share Of Israel
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
By Jeff Bennett
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Gadi Beer said there is one simple reason why he helped create and continues to run the Amidex35 Israel Mutual Fund--the everyday investor.
"When we started this there were no retail products out there in the U.S. to invest in Israel," said Beer, who is also the portfolio manager. "It was either through hedge funds or you had to use Israel brokers if you wanted to buy different stocks. This is the only vehicle around for someone who wants to invest in Israel and start an account with only $500."
The Amidex35, which celebrates its 11th anniversary in June, has continued operating on that principle and has now grown into a fund managing $25 million in investments and generating double-digit returns for its investors.
The fund invests in the 35 largest Israeli stocks--as determined by market capitalization--traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq stock exchange. Holdings are spread across the board with investments made in oil and natural gas, chemicals, banking, aerospace, food retail and utilities. The fund, run by the Valley Forge, Pa.-based Index Investments LLC, is reviewed annually with only a handful of companies being dropped or added.
The fund has outperformed the S&P 500 Index over five years with a return of 9%, according to Morningstar. The year-to-date return of 2.5% trails the S&P, which was up 6.8% through April 27.
"I think Israel is a success story in terms of it being a very young country that has an economy that continues to do well which shows they must be doing something right," Beer said. "Today it is much calmer there than what it was before."
As a result, the country's economy continues to grow. It is expected to expand 3.2% this year, according to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF also said Israel's economy is likely to recover the fastest from the global recession amid increased exports. The Bank of Israel has already raised its interest rate for the fourth time since August to head off any inflation worries.
The fund's biggest holding is Teva Pharmaceutical Ltd. (TEVA), the world's largest maker of generic drugs. The company develops, markets and produces drugs covering all health-related areas. It reported net income of $2 billion last year on revenue of $13.9 billion and its stock recently traded above $66--a five-year high.
Beer said another group of stocks he likes is oil and refining, as possible new natural gas discoveries may finally ignite these industries. The fund is invested in Paz Oil Company Ltd., the largest Israeli fuel company, which holds about 30% of the Israeli fuel market and 31% of Israeli gasoline stations. It is also invested in Delek Group, which is controlled by internationally known businessman Isaac Tshuva.
Rounding out the more interesting investments are banking companies Bank Leumi Le-israel Bm and Bank Hapoalim Bm. Bank Hapoalim, for example, is Israel's largest bank, operating more than 260 full-service branches and eight regional business centers.
"Others have tried but we remain one of the biggest funds out there investing in Israel," Beer said. "At first we saw Israeli and Christian investors who had an affinity for the country. Now we are seeing the professional investor as the economy continues to do well."
(Jeff Bennett covers the automotive industry for Dow Jones Newswires. He can be reached at 248-204-5542 or by email at email@example.com.)
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