U.S. stock markets have boomed since President Trump’s election last November. That’s a well-known fact, so there’s no need to explain it again here. What’s worth talking about, however, is the surprising strength of Latin American stocks.
Take a look at the MSCI Emerging Markets Latin America Index. The index covers 115 companies in five countries—Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru—and it’s viewed as a good barometer for Latin American stocks overall. As of July 31, the Index was up 19.48% from the beginning of the year. It’s also performing stronger than emerging markets overall.
The increase in stock values has a simple cause: The economic recovery is gaining steam in many Latin American countries. The region has struggled pretty badly since 2008, but things are starting to look up. Argentina’s economic recovery is picking back up, with the IMF predicting growth of over 2% in 2017. Brazil’s GDP fell in both 2015 and 2016 but is expected to start growing again this year. Colombia is expected to have a better year as well.
As a savvy financial trader, you might be able to make a buck betting on the following Latin American stocks:
Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. – Petrobras (PBR) – The Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras has been a disaster since 2008. First it was hammered by sinking oil prices, then it was exposed as corrupt, inefficient, and unprofitable. A public corruption scandal and poor financial performance dragged Petrobras’s value into the toilet in 2015.
Since then, however, Petrobras has recovered nicely and should be considered a good value option.
Petrobras reorganized in 2016, cutting costs and getting a lot of its debt paid down. Earlier this year it announced it would invest $19 billion in 2017 in new exploration, production, and refining. Those are encouraging signs, and its stock currently stands at $8.67, gaining nearly 25% over the past two months.
Telefônica Brasil S.A. (VIV) – Brazil’s economy isn’t very strong, but that isn’t stopping Telefonica Brazil. The company’s Q2 profits were $272 million, up a staggering 36% from the same point last year. The company’s share price is currently above $15, a 12% increase from the start of the year.
A recent poll of 11 investment analysts conducted by FT projected Telefonica Brazil to outperform the market. Four of the polled analysts advised investors to buy. None advised selling the stock.
MercadoLibre (MELI) – This Argentinian company is often called the “eBay of Latin America.” It operates online marketplaces and doesn’t own any of the products that are sold—making it more like eBay and Alibaba and less like Amazon. MercadoLibre’s stock has gained an impressive 50% since the beginning of 2017.
The company has put out strong numbers so far in 2017, largely due to a 20% increase in first-time customers. Here’s a really good sign from MercadoLibre: It’s making gains even though its two primary markets, Argentina and Brazil, are still crawling out of recession. This is one Latin American stock that investors can’t afford to ignore.
Banco Santander Chile SA (BSA.SG) – A subsidiary of the multinational Santander Group, Santander Chile is the country’s largest retail bank. 2017 has been a boom year for the bank, with its stock price rising by 30% year-on-year to just under $25.
Santander Chile’s renaissance has been driven by strong quarterly earnings reports. Q2 net income increased by 29.4%, due in part to the company’s orientation toward larger, less risky SMEs. The company also does well in its retail activities, with retail banking fees increasing by 8% year-on-year. Santander Chile is one Latin American stock that should be considered a stable bet.