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The Best Way to Get into the Samsung Galaxy

The buzz about the eye-tracking S4 from Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) is deafening, as is the speculation about whether this Korean tech giant will continue to hold back Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) with its innovative devices and growing consumer appeal.

The reasons to be bullish on Samsung are everywhere. But unfortunately, many investors get frustrated when they look into buying the stock in a typical brokerage account. It trades for around $1,450 currently and has a daily volume of around 100 shares. That’s not a typo — just 100.

Not very accessible, now is it?

Thankfully, there are alternatives out there for you tech traders looking to get in on Samsung. And no, I’m not talking Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to play the OS — I’m talking about overweight ETFs that are mostly made up of Samsung stock.

It’s admittedly not a direct play and most of these funds have significantly underperformed Samsung itself. But here are your options if you’re curious:

iShares MSCI South Korea Index Fund (NYSE:EWY): This iShares fund is weighted in Samsung at just under 23% right now. There’s also a 5.3% stake in Hyundai (PINK:HYMTF) — another Korean stock that is appealing to some investors but is logistically challenging to buy. As the name implies, this iShares ETF is focused on the nation of South Korea. Aside from the inherent risks of being an emerging market that is tough to research, South Korea is also next to (duh) North Korea, which just made a rather silly claim that it wants to nuke the U.S. That could obviously pose some issues. Year-to-date the EWY fund is off 7% vs. a 7% rise in Samsung stock.

iShares MSCI All Country Asia Information Technology Fund (NASDAQ:AAIT): This ETF has 19% exposure to Samsung, and is a good alternative if you’re prefer to play the sector instead of the region. Top holdings after Samsung include big-name tech stocks like Taiwan Semiconductor (NYSE:TSM) at 11% and Canon (NYSE:CAJ) at 5%. AAIT is up a little more than 1% in 2013, again lagging the 7% rise in Samsung.

SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (NYSE:IPK): This SPDR fund is also a sector play, and has nearly a 20% weighting in Samsung. Next in line are SAP (NYSE:SAP) at 8% and Canon again at just under 5%. The makeup is a little different than AIIT above, but the performance is similar with a roughly 1.5% gain year-to-date.

iShares MSCI ACWI ex U.S. Information Technology ETF (NYSE:AXIT): A cousin to the above funds, this IT ETF includes European companies as well as big Asia plays. Unfortunately that dilutes Samsung to a 15% weighting, followed by 9% in TSM and 7% in SAP. This euro zone inclusion, however, bumps up YTD returns to over 4% in 2013 … even though that still is underperforming Samsung.

iShares S&P Asia 50 Index Fund (NYSE:AIA): This fourth and final iShares fund only has less than 15% invested in Samsung, though it is the No. 1 holding here, too. Next in line are state-run banking giant China Construction Bank (PINK:CICHY) at almost 6% and Taiwan Semiconductor again at a slightly smaller weighting. AIA is down a little over 4% this year.

Various other funds have exposure to Samsung under 10% if you want to look for picks that have done better this year than these four. But keep in mind that there is no simple way other than direct investment to be wholly situated in Samsung.

However, given Apple’s collapse and the risk of disruption that is constant in tech … maybe that’s a good thing for some investors.

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Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of “The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks.” Write him at editor@investorplace.com or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.

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