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Here’s a Good Way to Invest in Emerging Markets

By Scott Chan on November 27, 2017

Today, more than ever, investors need a strong stake in emerging markets because that’s where much of the world’s growth is coming from. This is a trend that, spearheaded by China, will continue to accelerate.

The developing world already accounts for more than half the global economy by purchasing power parity. Its share will continue to burgeon thanks to growth rates far outpacing anything the developed world can generate.

An ETF that offers exposure to these fast-growing economies is iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSE: EEM). The fund tracks a broad array of companies in emerging markets, with a heavy focus on Asia.

As the IMF graph below shows, a good chunk of the growth in 2018 will come from China and its neighbors. The deeper shades of green are concentrated in Asia and Africa, in the Eastern Hemisphere. And this trend will last for the foreseeable future.

EEM tracks the benchmark MSCI Emerging Markets Index. It provides exposure to more than 830 stocks in 24 different countries. 74% of the portfolio is invested in companies in the Asia-Pacific region, with almost no exposure to North America.

The average market capitalization of the stocks in this fund is roughly $34 billion, and more than 90% of the fund are invested in either large- or mega-cap stocks. Investors don’t have to worry about investing money in possibly questionable small companies.

The fund invests 19% of the portfolio in consumer staples or consumer discretionary stocks, 23% in financial services, and 28% in tech. These types of companies should be among the chief beneficiaries of the modernization and growth of these developing economies.

China, South Korea, Taiwan, and India together represent roughly 65% of EEM. Since we expect China will increase its trade and improve its political relations with both South Korea and Taiwan and fuel growth there, those countries’ heavy representation in EEM is a positive.

Chinese stocks occupy six of EEM’s top ten positions.

Tencent holds the top spot. This tech standout has created a powerful mobile ecosystem. Its messaging, social media, video, and gaming apps are in most Chinese mobile users’ lives in one form or another, and the company has seen fast growth in revenues and profits.

Alibaba, which dominates the Chinese e-commerce market, is the fund’s No. 3 position.

China Construction Bank, which specializes in infrastructure and housing development, is at No. 6.

Baidu, the so-called Chinese Google, is at No. 7.

China Mobile, in the No. 8 spot, is the world’s largest mobile carrier. The company provides talk and data services to 860 million customers. Of those customers, some 500 million – more than the entire U.S. population – are 4G users.

Another of China’s “Big Four” banks, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, is at No. 9.

We should mention that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which occupies the No. 4 spot, is one of our favorite tech stocks. We think the semiconductor industry is no longer as cyclical as it once was.

The bottom line is that EEM offers the additional bonus of a major concentration in Asia, a big positive for investors looking to gain some exposure to the fast growing area.


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