For the past couple years, it seemed like emerging markets could do no wrong for investors. But 2012 hasn’t been quite the picnic we’ve all become accustomed to. Growth in the biggest-name driver, China, has slowed, and the rest of the BRICs have faced their own share of difficulties. For the past year, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index is up only 2%, while the S&P has clocked a return of 26%.
Still, when it comes to economic growth, the emerging markets of the world have a lot more near-term potential than the U.S. and other established economies. Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) equity analysts Christian Mueller-Glissmann and Peter Oppenheimer, for one, recently said they think the needle’s about to turn away from U.S. equities and back toward emerging markets (and even developed Europe).
Emerging-market mutual funds offer investors the chance to get into broad swaths of international stocks, many of which don’t even trade as ADRs in American markets, and thus are difficult (or at least costlier) for many individual investors to access. They also offer a range of flavors, depending on what parts of the world or what businesses you expect to flare up. Here’s a look at five funds you can rely on to play emerging markets: