Contrarians' Day: Will the Real Contrarians Please Stand Up?
What is Faber contrary about these days? U.S. stocks and Japanese bonds. Faber believes the U.S. stock rally may last a few more weeks, but that corporate profit disappointments will bring it to a screeching halt. He also reiterated the sentiment, noted on his Web site recently and in Barron's last weekend, that Japanese government bonds are the "short of the century." The bond market in Japan yields less than 0.6%, far below the Nikkei 225 index. Shorting Japanese government bonds is a bit tricky for the average U.S. investor -- you have to short government bond futures through an exchange such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
But short-averse investors can play the flip side: Buy Japanese stocks, Faber says. Faber's contrarian streak extends to bull calls as well, and he believes the Japanese stock market has hit a major low. A reallocation of assets in Japan from bonds to stocks is in store, Faber says. Faber believes brokerage stocks such as Nomura (NMR) will reap the benefits, but he said the easiest thing to do is invest in a fund or exchange-traded fund that focuses on Japan -- check out this recent column for a few good fund picks.
Faber is bullish on Southeast Asia, which has suffered from the SARS scare. His contrariness leads him to Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan -- which is trading at a lower level than during the 1997-98 crisis and has "strong rebound potential." In Indonesia, the NYSE-listed PT Telekomunikasi (TLK) is among his favorites.
"I would put at least 50% into overseas markets in overseas currencies, and over in Asia the valuation of equities is much lower," Faber said. For what it's worth, not everything in America looks awful to him. He likes oil and mining stocks such as ExxonMobil (XOM), Schlumberger (SLB) and gold stock Newmont Mining (NEM).
A Contrarian Bull: Tom McManus"I can't always promise to be contrarian, I can only call them as I see them," says Banc of America Securities strategist Tom McManus. His calls have been pretty sharp -- he counseled clients to get out of tech and telecom in early 2000, and started getting bullish during the bleak days of summer 2002.
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