FDEU CEF: Forget The Extra Yield, Own VGK Instead (NYSE:FDEU)

A map of Europe and its continents

KeithBinns/E+ by way of Getty Images

(This article was co-produced with Hoya Capital Real Estate)


With the turmoil in Europe and as a follow-up to my VGK: An ETF To Own If You Only Want Europe’s Developed Country Exposure article, which offered traders which a unhedged/hedged view of the Developed European market. This article focuses on the First Trust Dynamic Europe Equity Income Fund (NYSE:FDEU) and whether or not a Closed-End-Fund, which its yield-enhancing technique, delivers in comparison with a fundamental index-based ETF just like the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (NYSEARCA:VGK). The comparability, for non-hedging traders, is forego the additional yield FEDU offers and make investments with VGK as a substitute.

Understanding the First Trust Dynamic Europe Equity Income Fund

Seeking Alpha describes this Closed-End-Fund as:

First Trust Dynamic Europe Equity Income Fund is a detailed ended fairness mutual fund launched and managed by First Trust Advisors L.P. The fund is co-managed by Henderson Global Investors (North America) Inc. and Henderson Investment Management Limited. It invests within the public fairness markets of Europe. The fund seeks to spend money on shares of firms working throughout diversified sectors. It primarily invests in fairness securities of European firms of any market capitalization. First Trust Dynamic Europe Equity Income Fund was shaped on September 25, 2015 and is domiciled within the United States.

Source: FDEU

FDEU has $215m in belongings and at the moment yields 5.76%, about The managers cost 193bps in charges; barely excessive even for a CEF utilizing leverage.


This assertion was included within the final Annual Report:

Assuming that the Fund’s leverage prices stay at 92bps, the annual return that the Fund’s portfolio should expertise (web of bills) to be able to cowl its leverage prices could be 0.21%.

Source: FDEU 2021 Annual Report

Since FDEU is a CEF and doesn’t make investments based mostly on an underlying index, they’ve the power so as to add methods that the VGK ETF can or doesn’t embody. Some vital ones embody:

  • The Fund makes use of monetary leverage by borrowing in each U.S. Dollars and Euros. During the interval, the Fund maintained its borrowing stage to benefit from enticing funding alternatives accessible. During 2021, monetary leverage had a constructive impression on the Fund’s efficiency. At the tip of 2021, leverage stood at 23%.
  • The Fund utilized a British Pound forex hedge to offset among the publicity to the Pound Sterling, and with the forex depreciating over the interval the hedge was in place, this was a constructive contributor to efficiency.
  • To generate further revenue, the Fund might write (or promote) name choices on portfolio fairness securities and sure broad-based securities indices in an quantity as much as 40% of the worth of its Managed Assets. During the 12-month interval ended December 31, 2021, the choices portfolio administration staff overwrote roughly 30% of the Fund’s Managed Assets. The choice technique was executed on the broad-based Euro Stoxx 50 Index, promoting one to three-month name choices, roughly at-the-money to barely out-of-the-money. The choice technique subtracted from the whole return of the Fund in the course of the interval because the overwritten index, the Euro Stoxx 50, traded larger in worth throughout the identical interval.

While not a method for FDEU, shopping for it at the most effective low cost is.

At 12.6% low cost, FDEU is barely deeper than the 6 and 12-month common. With the deepest low cost ever lower than 3% extra, this might point out entry level, assuming FDEU is price proudly owning.

FDEU Holdings overview

FDU ticker

The overwhelming publicity to UK shares explains the hedging of the British Pound to guard the efficiency from motion of the GBP in opposition to the USD. While Switzerland is listed second, their forex, the Swiss Franc (17%), locations third behind the 38% publicity to the Euro. There can be minor publicity to a number of different currencies.

Top holdings

First Trust Dynamic Europe Equity Income Fund

The Top 10 signify 25% of the portfolio, with the forex publicity of every inventory listed. While FDEU is permitted to cowl as much as 40% of the asset with Call choices, on the finish of February they have been slightly below 30% coated. While I couldn’t discover current choice publicity, the 12/31/21 contracts have been accessible, and represented 1% of the whole belongings.

FDEU fund

FDEU 2021 Annual Report

All of these contract most likely turned worthwhile once they expired because the Stoxx 50 Index is down 10% YTD. Notice they scale back their counterparty threat by utilizing three totally different corporations: BNS-Bank of Nova Scotia; SG-Societe Generale; UBS-Union Bank Switzerland). As of this date, their choice positions have been underwater by $200k.

FDEU Distribution overview

Europe Equity Income Fund FDEU DVDs

FDEU makes use of a Managed Distribution coverage like many CEFs, and the Annual Report offers this description:

The Board of Trustees of the Fund has authorized a managed distribution coverage for the Fund (the “Plan”) in reliance on exemptive aid acquired from the Securities and Exchange Commission that allows the Fund to make periodic distributions of long-term capital positive aspects as incessantly as month-to-month every tax yr. Under the Plan, the Fund at the moment intends to proceed to pay a recurring month-to-month distribution within the quantity of $0.06 per Common Share that displays the distributable money move of the Fund. A portion of this month-to-month distribution might embody realized capital positive aspects. This might end in a discount of the long-term capital acquire distribution vital at yr finish by distributing realized capital positive aspects all year long.

Source: FDEU Annual Report

As per most funds that execute an choices writing technique, web positive aspects from these trades turn into Return-of-Capital when distributed to traders. FDEU DVDs

Understanding the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF

Seeking Alpha describes this ETF as:

Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF is an trade traded fund launched and managed by The Vanguard Group, Inc. It invests in public fairness markets of European Developed area. It invests in shares of firms working throughout diversified sectors. It invests in development and worth shares of firms throughout diversified market capitalization. It seeks to trace the efficiency of the FTSE Developed Europe All Cap Index. VGK began in 1990.

Source: VGK

VGK has $21b in belongings and offers traders with a 3.5% yield. Vanguard expenses 8bps in charges, very affordable for an ETF holding worldwide shares.

Examining the Index used

FTSE describes their Index as:

The FTSE Developed Europe All Cap Index is a market-capitalization weighted index representing the efficiency of huge, mid and small cap firms in Developed European markets, together with the UK. The index is derived from the FTSE Global Equity Index Series (GEIS), which covers over 7,400 securities in 47 totally different international locations and captures 98% of the world’s investable market capitalization.

Source: Index

Basic data on the Index consists of:

FTSE Developed Europe All Cap Index

I didn’t discover a particular Methodology PDF for this index, however they’ve one which explains the FTSE index sequence it is part of: Index Methodology PDF.

VGK Holdings overview

Morningstar has extra statistical information:

The VGK ETF, on the assorted issue scales, mainly is within the center, which is not stunning for a broad-based-index ETF. While earnings development is respectable, Sales development is anemic. The market-cap allocations runs smaller than the Index with VGK common MC at $39b versus the Index’s $54b. VGK underweights the biggest shares and overweights Mid- and Small-Cap shares.


VGK varies by 1% from the Index in a number of sectors however not be sufficient to essentially impact its efficiency by way of the Index. Financials, Industrials, and Healthcare are the Top 3 sectors, accounting for 46% of the portfolio. Pharmaceuticals, Banks and Insurance firms are the highest business exposures, all with 5-10% exposures.

Data from a number of sources; compiled by Author

Using information from, I added fundamental nation information, plus IMF GDP development forecast for 2024-26. I included the United States for comparability functions. While the typical Purchasing Power Parity, labeled “PPP”, is beneath the USA for the ETF, three international locations are larger.

Since I didn’t see that VGK does any forex hedging, I listed the forex publicity ranges the ETF has. How the USD strikes in opposition to these currencies, particularly the Euro and the British Pound, will have an effect on the ETF’s return to US traders and in another way for abroad traders.

Top 10 holdings


Well recognized, Large-Cap shares dominate the checklist as anticipated, a lot in order that the Top 10 are virtually 18% of the belongings, regardless of VGK holding over 1360 shares. The full holdings checklist certainly reveals no currency-hedging belongings.

VGK Distribution overview

Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF VGK DVDs

Over the previous decade, a sample of an extra-large payout at year-end has developed. Unfortunately, the yearly quantities paid usually are not rising. Seeking Alpha offers a dividend scorecard for ETFs and provides VGK a “B”, apparently on the power of their yield and consecutive fee file.

Europe funds DVD scorecard

Side by Side have a look at the Funds

Data by YCharts

Since FDEU began in late 2015, VGK has supplied higher returns, each on worth and whole return. Even when utilizing to incorporate non-reinvestment of payouts to the value return, VGK is best by over 6% yearly. While a part of FDEU’s poor outcomes comes from capping the upside by writing Call choices near the present index worth, the next portfolio allocations, if constant, additionally might play an element.

Europe investing

Compile by Author from a number of sources

There at the moment are main allocation variations by international locations and smaller variations on the sector stage. Believers that the UK will come out of BREXIT stronger and Germany’s vitality dependence on Russia and their excessive prices are negatives, would possibly look favorably on FDEU though its file to-date is poor.

Portfolio Strategy

Upon evaluating these two funds, it’s one other reminder to revenue traders to look past yield to what the fund’s whole return is. This is might be much more essential if the investor’s funding technique is to take the payouts to cowl their residing prices.

Why Europe now?

While traders ought to all the time take into account worldwide fairness publicity, is Europe place to be growing to at least one’s publicity? Here are some the reason why this ought to be time:

  • I imagine Baron Rothschild, the well-known financer, could be an investor right now as a result of pessimistic view of many due to the scenario in Ukraine and its unknown final result. While SPY up over the previous month, FDEU is down 5.5% and VGK down 3.6%.
  • Except for a small allocation to Poland in VGK, neither of the funds coated listed here are uncovered to any Eastern European shares, which ought to decrease the funding threat.
  • With the Fed, however not ECB elevating rates of interest, the USD ought to strengthen in opposition to the key European currencies. This ought to assist European exporters by making their items extra aggressive in opposition to USD exports.
  • According to Goldman Sachs, traditionally European equities have delivered constructive returns when the Fed hikes charges. The MSCI Europe’s excessive focus of cyclical sectors, lead us to imagine these indices might do nicely on this setting.
  • When evaluating fairness ratios between Europe-focused and US-focused ETFs, the values are clearly in Europe’s favor. With the Fed attempting to struggle inflation by slowing the US economic system, that would make US values appear much more excessive. Currently, company earnings expectations are rising quicker in Europe than within the US.
  • Investors all over the world turn into more and more conscious of the significance of incorporating ESG points into funding selections, European firms typically lead within the ESG rankings and the area is nicely positioned to profit from fund flows as this pattern continues upward.
  • Europe-focused funds do not rely on just a few Mega-stocks for his or her efficiency. The largest allocation in both fund is 3%, whereas the SPDR S&P 500 Trust ETF (SPY) has 3 holdings higher than 3%. SPY’s Top 10 accounts for 29%; each of those funds are much less.

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