Closed-end funds trading on the local exchanges in Poland and the Czech Republic are offering savvy investors huge discounts to net asset value. But some of the funds suffer from lack of liquidity.
The Czech Republic has 12 domestic funds that are privately and publicly managed. The funds hold stakes in hundreds of the country's partially privatized companies.
In Poland, there are 15 national investment funds that trade on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, holding varying stakes in more than 500 Polish firms that may go public some day.
The discounts on the local Czech and Polish funds vary widely but generally begin at 20%. Investors increasingly are seeing the potential for returns in Polish NIFs, which are trading at discounts from 18% to almost 65%.
Because the Czech funds are required to open over the next four years, the discounts are narrowing rapidly. Thus, big discount shoppers are migrating to Poland.
There is just one problem, according to Maciek Wesiorski, a Polish domestic funds analyst for Wood & Co., Warsaw: "Volumes are horrible. Nobody is willing to sell just several millions of dollars worth of shares."
Another problem: "It is extremely difficult to evaluate price because each fund holds so many unlisted companies," said Wlodzimierz Parzydlo, head of equity research at Bank Handlowy, Warsaw.