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Is SPDR MSCI EAFE StrategicFactors ETF (QEFA) a Strong ETF Right Now?

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The SPDR MSCI EAFE StrategicFactors ETF (QEFA - Free Report) was launched on 06/04/2014, and is a smart beta exchange traded fund designed to offer broad exposure to the Broad Developed World ETFs category of the market.

What Are Smart Beta ETFs?

Market cap weighted indexes were created to reflect the market, or a specific segment of the market, and the ETF industry has traditionally been dominated by products based on this strategy.

Market cap weighted indexes work great for investors who believe in market efficiency. They provide a low-cost, convenient and transparent way of replicating market returns.

On the other hand, some investors who believe that it is possible to beat the market by superior stock selection opt to invest in another class of funds that track non-cap weighted strategies--popularly known as smart beta.

Non-cap weighted indexes try to choose stocks that have a better chance of risk-return performance, which is based on specific fundamental characteristics, or a mix of other such characteristics.

Even though this space provides many choices to investors--think one of the simplest methodologies like equal-weighting and more complicated ones like fundamental and volatility/momentum based weighting--not all have been able to deliver first-rate results.

Fund Sponsor & Index

The fund is managed by State Street Global Advisors. QEFA has been able to amass assets over $805.93 million, making it one of the average sized ETFs in the Broad Developed World ETFs. Before fees and expenses, this particular fund seeks to match the performance of the MSCI EAFE Factor Mix A-Series Index.

The MSCI EAFE Factor Mix A-Series Index captures large and mid-cap representation across 22 developed market Europe, Australasia, and Far East countries and aims to represent the performance of value, low volatility, and quality factor strategies.

Cost & Other Expenses

Cost is an important factor in selecting the right ETF, and cheaper funds can significantly outperform their more expensive cousins if all other fundamentals are the same.

Operating expenses on an annual basis are 0.30% for this ETF, which makes it on par with most peer products in the space.

It has a 12-month trailing dividend yield of 1.95%.

Sector Exposure and Top Holdings

ETFs offer diversified exposure and thus minimize single stock risk, but it is still important to delve into a fund's holdings before investing. Most ETFs are very transparent products and many disclose their holdings on a daily basis.

Looking at individual holdings, Roche Holding Ltd (ROG-CH) accounts for about 2.58% of total assets, followed by Nestle S.a. (NESN-CH) and Asml Holding Nv (ASML-NL).

QEFA's top 10 holdings account for about 16.25% of its total assets under management.

Performance and Risk

Year-to-date, the SPDR MSCI EAFE StrategicFactors ETF has gained about 7.99% so far, and it's up approximately 19.65% over the last 12 months (as of 10/13/2021). QEFA has traded between $59.71 and $79.35 in this past 52-week period.

The ETF has a beta of 0.74 and standard deviation of 19.92% for the trailing three-year period, making it a medium risk choice in the space. With about 705 holdings, it effectively diversifies company-specific risk.


SPDR MSCI EAFE StrategicFactors ETF is a reasonable option for investors seeking to outperform the Broad Developed World ETFs segment of the market. However, there are other ETFs in the space which investors could consider.

IShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA - Free Report) tracks MSCI EAFE Index and the iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF (IEFA - Free Report) tracks MSCI EAFE Investable Market Index. IShares MSCI EAFE ETF has $56.07 billion in assets, iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF has $99.08 billion. EFA has an expense ratio of 0.32% and IEFA charges 0.07%.

Investors looking for cheaper and lower-risk options should consider traditional market cap weighted ETFs that aim to match the returns of the Broad Developed World ETFs.

Bottom Line

To learn more about this product and other ETFs, screen for products that match your investment objectives and read articles on latest developments in the ETF investing universe, please visit Zacks ETF Center.

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