Boost Your Portfolio Returns with the Emerging Markets

Boost Your Portfolio Returns with the Emerging MarketsThe key to the global economy is to drive consumers to spend in their respective economies. My view is that the emerging markets will continue to be an excellent place to have some capital, from the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries to the four “Little Tigers,” comprising Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. My reasoning is that the newfound wealth and growing middle class in these markets will drive consumer spending and economic growth.

Just take a look at the numbers from global credit card provider MasterCard Incorporated (NYSE/MA), as the company is a good global barometer on consumer spending, with its presence in over 210 countries. In a third-quarter press release, MasterCard reported that its worldwide purchase volume surged 12% in the third quarter on a local currency basis. MasterCard President and CEO, Ajay Banja added, “Additionally, emerging geographies and governments continue to provide great opportunities for growth.” (Source: “MasterCard Incorporated Reports Third-Quarter 2012 Financial Results,” Yahoo! Finance via BusinessWire, October 31, 2012, last accessed January 15, 2013.)

What’s interesting is the appearance of credit in the emerging markets where cash was once king. MasterCard clearly sees new markets in these growth regions where the per-capita income is rising, helping to drive consumer spending and economic growth.

The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (NYSEArca/EEM) chart below shows the rally since mid-November 2012.

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Chart

 Chart courtesy of

The BRIC region is showing decent market returns to start 2013.

The Brazilian benchmark index, the Bovespa, is up nearly two percent this month, while the Russian Traded Index (RTX) is up a whopping 4.2%. Stock returns in the two major regions, India and China, are up 2.5% (BSE SENSEX India Index) and 1.9% (Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index), respectively.

As many of you know, I feel China (read “China: Year of the Snake Could Sizzle”) and India will be the explosive areas for consumer spending, given over one-third of the world’s population lives in these two regions.

“China, followed by India and other emerging Asian economies, is creating a vast new population of consumers, whose growth will continue into the coming decade,” reports consulting firm Bain & Company on its web site (Source: “The Great Eight: Trillion-Dollar Growth Trends to 2020,” Bain & Company, September 9, 2011, last accessed January 15, 2013.) The company’s research suggests that about two-thirds of the world’s growth in the middle class will be derived from China and India, and that will translate into increased consumer spending.

On a smaller but equally important scale, the Little Tigers could be a place to invest some money given the strong consumer spending.

South Korea, the fourth-largest economy in Asia, grew at 6.1% in 2010, but growth is estimated to fall to 3.5% this year, according to the Bank of Korea.

Latin America is also hot for growth for consumer spending. The region’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is estimated to slow to 3.7% this year, down from 4.5% in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). On the plus, growth is expected to rally to 4.1% in 2013. The key player in Latin America is Brazil, which will be host to the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Another emerging region that will see strong consumer spending growth is Eastern Europe—namely Russia, the largest economy in Eastern Europe, and Poland, the second-largest economy in the region.

To diversify and add possible higher returns, take a look at these emerging markets and the companies that operate there.