Here’s an investing theme that’s bound to appeal to anyone who is fearful about dipping their toes into emerging markets: Invest in developed-market stocks that are making big forays into places like Brazil, Russia, India and China. That way you get exposure to some of the faster-growing areas of the world, without getting exposure to the kind of accounting shenanigans and economic blow-ups for which emerging markets are notorious.
To be sure, direct investments into emerging markets have rewarded investors in recent years, largely because developed markets have shown that they too can blow up – and blow up real good. The MSCI emerging markets index has risen 13.9 per cent over the past five years, while the developed market counterpart has fallen 20 per cent.
But that doesn’t mean emerging markets offer smooth rides. China’s benchmark index, for example, is still down more than 60 per cent from its high in 2007. And for investors who prefer to invest in individual stocks, rather than index funds or exchange traded funds, individual emerging market investments can be difficult to buy and come loaded with risk.
Hefty multi-nationals – headquartered in the United States, Europe or Japan but moving into some of the wilder, faster-paced areas of the world – might give you the best of both worlds: Stability and growth. As Kate Moore, global equity strategist at Bank of America, noted, emerging market consumption growth has averaged 7 per cent a year since 2007, after taking inflation into account. That’s 10-times the pace of U.S. consumption growth. Even though consumption growth is slowing, it is still expected. Emerging markets also have five-times the number of consumers as developed markets, yet the size of emerging market consumer stocks is relatively puny.
“Economists and market strategists have been talking about the great potential of the emerging market consumer for many years, and in our view the theme is still very much in play,” Ms. Moore said in a note. “In fact, the recent market weakness may provide an interesting entry point to stocks that benefit from the secular consumer story.”
She constructed a stock screen, looking for developed-market stocks with market capitalizations of more than $10-billion (U.S.) and at least 30 per cent of 2011 sales coming from emerging markets. She found 29 of them, roughly split between the United States and Europe.
“We acknowledge that the companies in our screen are trading above the overall market, but we think investors should be willing to pay a premium for these large, liquid, high growth companies,” she said.
And now, the names with percentage exposure to emerging markets:
Wynn Resorts (72 per cent), SABMiller PLC (71 per cent), Mead Johnson (65 per cent), Philip Morris International Inc. (61 per cent), British American Tobacco (58 per cent), Carlsberg (54 per cent), Unilever PLC (53 per cent), Colgate-Palmolive Co. (52 per cent), Anheuser-Busch InBev (51 per cent), Las Vegas Sands (51 per cent), Groupe Danone SA (50 per cent), Yum! Brands (50 per cent), Swatch (50 per cent), Heineken (49 per cent), Richemont (45 per cent), Henkel (43 per cent), Pernod-Ricard (41 per cent), LVMH Moet Hennessy (39 per cent), Beiersdorf (39 per cent), L’Oreal (38 per cent), Adidas (37 per cent), Nestle (36 per cent), Kimberly-Clark (36 per cent), Procter & Gamble (35 per cent), Imperial Tobacco Group (34 per cent) Coca-Cola Co. (32 per cent), PepsiCo Inc. (31 per cent), Diageo (31 per cent), Reckitt Benckiser (30 per cent).