Indices for Canadian-listed Companies on an Uptrend

I want to speak to you today about some foreign exposure for your portfolio. If you invest or trade solely in U.S.-listed stocks, you are missing out on some excellent gains as well as the opportunity to diversify geographically and reduce some exposure to the U.S. dollar, which has been declining against other major currencies.

 In past commentaries, I have discussed the excellent double-digit returns in growing markets such as India, Mexico, and South Korea and rebounding markets in Japan. In China, I would avoid the loosely regulated exchanges and advise entering American depository receipts (ADRs) trading on U.S. exchanges or in Chinese-focused mutual funds.

 While U.S. markets have been up since 2003, the recent returns pale in comparison to some of the foreign stock markets. Investing in some of the growing non-U.S. markets would have paid huge dividends to your overall portfolio.

 You may be somewhat cautious about investing in overseas markets. In this case, you only have to look north to Canada, where markets have performed much better than in the U.S. The benchmark Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index has been on a solid uptrend since dropping below 6,000 in late 2003. The index of Canadian large-cap performances is up about 136% since 2003, well ahead of U.S. indices. The S&P/TSX composite index recently touched a historical high of 14,216.20 and is up about 10% this year.

 A strong weighting in commodity stocks such as energy, gold, and base metals, accounting for about 40% of the index, has driven the S&P/TSX composite index. If you are positive on commodities going forward like I am, this Canadian index might be worth a look. Unlike emerging markets such as India, Mexico, or South Korea, financial reporting in Canada is very good and follows reliable GAAP.

 When you trade Canadian-listed companies on the S&P/TSX composite index, you can rest assured that the numbers you are seeing represent a realistic picture of the company. Moreover, the political system is sound, the financial infrastructure is highly regulated, and the economy is doing well.

 In addition to the share-price appreciation, investing in Canadian stocks or an index also gives you exposure to a currency that is now at a 30-year high against the U.S. dollar, with CIBC World Markets predicting parity by year-end.

 You can also trade some Canadian stocks listed on U.S. exchanges. If you are looking for more growth and added risk, you can also buy or trade the S&P/TSX SmallCap Index or S&P/TSX MidCap Index. If you are looking for blue chips, there is the S&P/TSX 60 Index.

 If you are looking for emerging and speculative issues, there is the S&P/TSX Venture Composite Index, which had a tarnished past but has really cleaned up its image after its takeover by the Toronto Stock Exchange.