There have been relatively superficial discussions in the American financial news media about why overseas stocks may be more attractive than U.S. names at this point. But these discussions have only scratched the surface of why foreign stocks, in general, and emerging market stocks, in particular, are worth buying at this point.
One issue that has been largely overlooked is how negative the U.S. financial-news media has, for the most part, been about the American economy in the last eight months or so. Partly because of the (in my view, mistaken) entrenched belief in America that a recession and stock plunges are necessary byproducts of central bank tightening and partly due to the fact that negative news tends to garner more attention than neutral or negative ideas, the American media has been very pessimistic about the U.S. economy and stocks since last spring. That type of extreme pessimism isn’t very conducive to stock gains.
There has been some talk about the weakening of the dollar making foreign stocks more attractive. But I haven’t heard anyone mention that the dollar’s weakening makes foreign companies’ profits higher and their price-earnings ratios lower in dollar terms. Additionally, the bottom lines of foreign companies that buy products from the U.S. but sell their own offerings primarily domestically will be boosted by the dollar’s weakness.
And finally, the dollar’s weakness boosts the prices of raw materials, and many emerging economies are largely based on exporting raw materials.
Given all of those points, here are seven emerging market stocks to buy.
|SQM||Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile||$97.54|
|BSMX||Banco Santander México||$6.30|
On Jan. 20, JinkoSolar (NYSE:JKS), the huge Chinese solar panel producer, reported the stupendous, preliminary, fourth-quarter, bottom line results of one of its top operating subsidiaries, Jiangxi Jinko.
Specifically, JinkoSolar noted that “the preliminary unaudited net income attributable to the shareholders of Jiangxi Jinko excluding extraordinary gains and losses” soared an incredible 371% to 427.7% versus the same period a year earlier. Jinko has a 58.6% stake in Jiangxi Jinko.
On Jan. 11, investment bank Roth Capital upgraded JKS stock to “buy” from “neutral” and hiked its price target on the name to $70 from $50. As reasons for the upgrade, the firm cited improving U.S. policies towards solar and declining polysilicon prices.
In the wake of the upgrade and Jiangxi’s results, JKS started to take off, soaring from around $40 on Jan. 5 to $60.27 on Jan. 23.
Subsequently, the shares pulled back, probably because British bank Barclays downgraded a number of U.S. solar stocks due to California’s decision to reduce payments to consumers who have installed solar panels at their houses. But the impact of the state’s decision should be dwarfed in the U.S. consumer market by the increased tax credit for solar panels that were implemented this year.
And the idea of JKS stock losing momentum because of that note is ridiculous. That’s because, considering that Jinko has tremendous exposure not only to the rapidly expanding U.S. utility solar market, which is much bigger than America’s residential market but to the quickly growing Chinese and European solar markets, the California residential solar market truly amounts to a tiny portion of the company’s revenue.
Sooner or later, JKS will regain momentum after the Street catches onto that reality.
As I pointed out in a previous column, Coupang (NYSE:CPNG), the giant South Korea-based e-commerce giant, has invested a great deal of money in its logistics operations and can now “deliver millions of items” in less than seven hours.
And impressively, during a time when many e-commerce companies were struggling mightily, the company generated positive operating profit in the third quarter.
In October, CPNG launched a delivery service in Taiwan that allows the residents of the island to receive products from Korea for a fee “in less than a week,” as long as they order roughly $21 of products. Previously, Taiwanese citizens had to pay a great deal of money and wait over 21 days for overseas deliveries. The new service should meaningfully boost CPNG’s medium-term and long-term.
Meanwhile, in Q3, over 1.2 billion shares of the name were held or bought by institutional investors, versus only 50 million shares that were sold by institutions, and CPNG has a very low trailing price sales ratio of just 1.4 times.
With China’s Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) making progress on multiple highly promising tech projects and trading at a very low valuation, BIDU stock looks like an excellent investment.
Baidu plans to release “an artificial intelligence chatbot service similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT,” Reuters reported on Jan. 30. After ChatGPT made a big splash in the U.S., Baidu’s offering could very well become very popular in China, boosting Baidu’s financial results and BIDU stock in the process.
And on the autonomous-vehicle front, BIDU continues to make progress, as it was testing a driverless vehicle in Beijing. According to the firm, it is getting close to launching an autonomous-vehicle service in the Chinese capital while expanding its robotaxi service in Wuhan. In the latter city, BIDU is looking to have 200 robotaxis operational by the end of this year. It sounds like robotaxis are getting close to moving the needle financially for Baidu.
Also likely to boost Baidu are the rapid growth of both cloud computing in China and the resurgence of digital ads amid the Asian nation’s reopening.
BIDU has a rather low forward price-earnings ratio of 14.4, while analysts, on average, expect its top line to increase a meaningful 10% this year.
Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM)
The outlook of Chile’s Sociedad Quimica (NYSE:SQM), a lithium producer, continues to brighten a great deal as the demand for lithium is surging, while, over the long term, lithium prices are likely to soar. In a note to investors on Jan. 10, Deutsche Bank predicted that lithium prices would climb in the second half of this year, while investors are becoming more bullish on lithium amid the rising demand for electric vehicles in China.
All of that, of course, is very good news for SQM stock, and the bank kept a “buy” rating on the name, although Deutsche did cut its price target on the shares to $95 from $125.
Also upbeat on lithium’s longer-term outlook recently was Scotiabank, writing that the forecast for lithium is “increasingly bullish…the farther out we look.” Scotiabank identified SQM as one of its two top picks in the sector.
With more and more traditional automakers going “all in” on electric vehicles –one of the last big holdouts, Toyota (NYSE:TM), even appears to be jumping aboard now –lithium demand and prices should indeed soar in the coming quarter, and years. Also positive for lithium’s outlook are Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) success, China’s resurgence, and the many EV startups that are starting to enter the production stage.
The forward price-earnings ratio of SQM is a tiny 5.3.
Another South American stock that looks very well-positioned is Brazil-based miner Vale (NYSE:VALE). Given its focus on selling iron ore, a component of steel, Vale should benefit from strong demand for the latter metal.
Among the reasons that I’m bullish on steel demand are China’s reopening, higher U.S. infrastructure spending, the travel boom that’s increasing worldwide demand for planes, and the generally strong demand for automobiles, as shown by Tesla’s good fourth-quarter earnings and GM’s (NYSE:GM) strong Q4 results. Additionally, amid the Russia-Ukraine war and increased fear of China by its neighbors, defense spending is likely to surge, lifting the demand for weapons and steel.
Also noteworthy is that, on Dec. 9, Morgan Stanley upgraded Vale to “overweight” from “equal weight.” The bank was upbeat on the outlook for iron ore demand due to China’s reopening and lower supply. He raised his price target on the name to $20 from $14.50.
Finally, in November, Deutsche Bank wrote that “Vale is positioned to steadily increase iron ore and base metal volumes over the next three years” while spending relatively little, thereby generating powerful cash flows.
Vale has a high dividend yield of 4% and a low enterprise value/EBITDA ratio of 10.
Banco Santander México (BSMX)
Staying in Latin America, the Mexican economy should get a big boost from the “near-shoring” trade. That refers to the phenomenon in which U.S. companies are looking to move their factories much closer to home.
Moreover, the Mexican economy should also get a boost from the huge number of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. These immigrants tend to send a relatively high amount of money home.
In the third quarter, Banco Santander México’s (NYSE:BSMX) net income soared 69% year-over-year and 18% versus the previous quarter. Its core revenue climbed 17.4% YOY and nearly 5% versus the previous quarter. Finally, its total loans jumped 12% YOY.
“The third quarter was our best quarter ever in terms of net income,” said the bank’s CEO, Felipe García, in a statement.
The bank’s forward price-earnings ratio of 6.5 is tiny, while it has a huge dividend yield of 10%.
HDFC Bank (HDFC)
Finishing up in India and staying on the bank theme HDFC Bank (NYSE:HDFC) is benefiting from positive economic trends in India. Many American companies, including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), are reportedly looking to move their factories to India from China. And the Indian economy is now growing much faster than China’s, as India’s GDP is expected to climb 6.8% in the fiscal year that ends in March, the IMF recently predicted. While the Indian economy is expected to increase by 6.1% in the following fiscal year, that’s still very impressive growth. In 2024, the IMF expects the economy’s growth to reaccelerate to 6.8%.
Lavishing a great deal of praise on HDFC was Amit Anand, the co-founder of a company that launched one of India’s largest ETFs. “HDFC Bank’s secret to success is its culture of credit discipline, its technology leadership, and the fact that it competes primarily against state-run banks, which are generally slow-moving and inefficient,” Anand told US News and World Report. He added that the bank is a leader when it comes to digital technology.
HDFC’s net income has steadily increased through the years, climbing from $3.2 billion in fiscal 2019 to $3.6 billion in FY20 to $4.335 billion in FY21 to $5 billion in FY22.
On the date of publication, Larry Ramer held long positions in JKS and Tesla. He may enter a long position in BSMX in the next 48 hours. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
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