Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, I wouldn’t bother investing in the same old emerging markets that underperformed U.S. equities by 50% last year.
Of the 20 countries labeled as emerging markets, just five ETFs representing them are in the black over a one-year period: Israel (16.5%), Argentina (6.5%), Taiwan (6%), Vietnam (1.9%) and Hong Kong (1.6%). The field narrows to two if you adjust the time period to the past three months: Israel (4.8%) and Vietnam (8.5%).
You can lump the mighty BRICs—Brazil, Russia, India and China—in the losers bracket as well.
It’s not as though high debt, weakening currencies and close correlation to any drama going on in the U.S. and other developed worlds will suddenly disappear.
One alternative is frontier markets — countries largely insulated from outside influences, rich in resources, manpower and motivation to grow strong. The iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (FM) gained 23.7% in 2013 while its Emerging Markets counterpart lost 3.7%. But you have to be able to stomach the risk of countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
No worries. I found a country that once was classified as developed, is now considered emerging, yet has many of the profitable attributes of a frontier: Greece.
Greece lost its “developed market” status in the MSCI universe after investors shunned it for a six-year recession and default that forced the country out of the euro. As a result of the loss in economic firepower, Greece was banished to the Emerging Market grouping in June of 2013.
Greece benchmark surges 146%
It’s sounds much worse than it is. In fact, Bloomberg reports that the country’s ASE Index (ASE) has surged 146% since the announcement through 2013, topping all 94 national benchmarks globally, except Venezuela. Additionally, yields on Greece’s 10-year bonds have dropped to 8.31% from a peak of 33.7% in March 2012.
Because emerging markets is a smaller, riskier investment class it should attract a larger base of investors. Better yet, Greek stocks will double their weight on respective indexes.
That said here are three stocks for investing in the rebirth of Greece: