From upstart nation to ‘Start-Up Nation’

From upstart nation to ‘Start-Up Nation’

It’s rated only three stars (for “average”) by Morningstar Mutual Funds over 10 years, but its performance more recently has been superb. Its three-year and five-year ratings are five stars, tops. And this year, the fund has risen 50 percent.

The Amidex35 Israel Mutual Fund has handily outperformed its most similar index – by 5.08 percent over three years, by 10.54 percent over five years. Unfortunately, it began life 10 years ago, just as the bubble was about to burst. That hurt its record, but it’s still in the top half of world stock funds over 10 years.

The fund is an index fund; it owns shares of the 35 largest Israeli stocks on the Tel Aviv Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Nasdaq. (Their size is measured by their market capitalization – price times shares outstanding. Nasdaq is where smaller companies usually trade.) Why 35? An index fund is supposed to reflect 60 percent of the value of a country’s stocks – and 35 turned out to be the magic number.

The fund’s expense ratio is high – recently 3.24 percent a year. One reason: The fund doesn’t have much in the way of assets – only $18.5 million. Also, Cliff Goldstein, the fund company’s president, says there’s little competition among the fund’s suppliers.

The fact that there are only 35 stocks in the fund is considered a risk factor. So, of course, is the fact that all of the stocks are in one country.

Even so, this seems to be a sensible way for investors to get exposure to Israeli stocks.

You can buy shares directly by calling 1-888-876-3566. The minimum first investment is $500, with $250 for later investments. For automatic payments, the minimum amounts are $100, and $100 for reinvestments. There’s a 2 percent redemption fee for shares held for less than a year.

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