Think You Need a Manager for International Small Caps? Think Again.

Global Head of Research

With the increased availability of index-based, passive approaches for investing in equities, investors are continually analyzing where they fit in the context of the active vs. passive debate. It is fairly common to hear that in large-cap equities, which are perceived to be more efficient, there is less opportunity for active managers, so passive approaches make sense. However, it is in small caps—especially outside the United States—where active investment philosophies are believed to have greater potential to shine. WisdomTree introduced the first international small-cap ETF in 2006, and our record calls conventional wisdom into question. Some of WisdomTree’s best performance against active and passive peers alike has been in the international small-cap arena. Managing the Most Important Risk: Valuation Many times, small-cap stocks can respond quickly to changing conditions, which can lead to large swings in performance. We believe that with this responsiveness comes a responsibility to understand the susceptibility to overvaluation. To confront this risk, the WisdomTree International SmallCap Dividend Index is rebalanced annually. In essence, the process takes a detailed look at the relationship between dividend growth and price performance of developed international small-cap dividend payers. Once a year, the Index adds weight to stocks that have become less expensive and takes weight away from stocks that have become more expensive. In other words, the Index annually adjusts exposures by:
Adding Weight: Companies that have grown their dividends but whose prices may not have responded commensurately typically have the best chances of increasing in weight.
Subtracting Weight: Companies whose prices have performed very well but whose dividends have not grown commensurately typically have the best chances of decreasing in weight.
WisdomTree believes that taking the chips off the table at regular intervals after strong performance is critical to a strategy seeking to build a strong performance record over time. Proof in Performance The WisdomTree International SmallCap Dividend Fund (DLS) is built to track the returns of the WisdomTree International SmallCap Dividend Index after costs, fees and expenses. It has a long track record of almost nine years of live performance, and we look to compare it to active managers and ETFs in the Morningstar Foreign Small/Mid-Cap Value Category. DLS versus the Morningstar Foreign Small/Mid-Cap Value Peer Group (7/1/2006 to 3/31/2015) Untitled-15 DLS v. Morningstar Foreign Small-Cap Value Peer Group (fig. 2) Beating 80% Since Inception: DLS has beaten 80% of its peer group since its inception, with a return of 5.1%. The MSCI EAFE Small Cap Index—an important benchmark for this category—beat nearly two-thirds of the peer group over the same period. Contrary to what many might initially believe—that you need active managers to outperform in small caps outside the U.S., the evidence over this period may suggest otherwise.

Important Risks Related to this Article

There are risks associated with investing, including possible loss of principal. Foreign investing involves special risks, such as risk of loss from currency fluctuation or political or economic uncertainty. Funds focusing their investments on certain sectors and/or smaller companies increase their vulnerability to any single economic or regulatory development. This may result in greater share price volatility. Please read the Fund’s prospectus for specific details regarding the Fund’s risk profile.

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About the Contributor
Global Head of Research

Christopher Gannatti began at WisdomTree as a Research Analyst in December 2010, working directly with Jeremy Schwartz, CFA®, Director of Research. In January of 2014, he was promoted to Associate Director of Research where he was responsible to lead different groups of analysts and strategists within the broader Research team at WisdomTree. In February of 2018, Christopher was promoted to Head of Research, Europe, where he was based out of WisdomTree’s London office and was responsible for the full WisdomTree research effort within the European market, as well as supporting the UCITs platform globally. In November 2021, Christopher was promoted to Global Head of Research, now responsible for numerous communications on investment strategy globally, particularly in the thematic equity space. Christopher came to WisdomTree from Lord Abbett, where he worked for four and a half years as a Regional Consultant. He received his MBA in Quantitative Finance, Accounting, and Economics from NYU’s Stern School of Business in 2010, and he received his bachelor’s degree from Colgate University in Economics in 2006. Christopher is a holder of the Chartered Financial Analyst Designation.