NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Emerging market consumers will buy banking services as their incomes rise, says Jim Moffett, manager of the Scout International Fund (UMBWX), and that's why it's a good time to own international banks like Standard Chartered (SCBFF.PK) and HSBC (HBC).
The $6.8 billion mutual fund, which garners a full five stars from Morningstar (MORN), has risen 6.9% this year, beating 60% of its rivals. Over five years, the fund has generated average annual returns of 6.4%, better than 85% of its peer group.
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Why are international banks attractive now?Moffett: We like them because of their emerging market exposure. Standard Chartered, for example, is a London-based bank, but most of their operations are outside of the U.K. in South Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. We like HSBC for the same reason. They have roots in Hong Kong and Shanghai. In Australia, our preference is Australia New Zealand Bank because they have more exposure in Vietnam, Korea and India than the other Australian banks. Unlike the developed markets, emerging markets have very little debt. They are creating cash through savings and that's a ripe environment for the banking industry. Why is owning shares of Ambev (ABV) a smart way to play the emerging markets? Moffett: Ambev has a 50% or 60% market share in Brazil. And Brazil and China are the two major growing beer markets in the world. Their business is growing, they have good margins and a dominant market share. Think about it, if you can't make money selling beer on the equator, then where can you make it? Another play on a healthy consumer is eyewear maker Luxottica (LUX). Why is this stock attractive to you? Moffett: They make eyeglass frames, high-end designer frames and they also run LensCrafters and SunGlass Hut in America. What we like about them is that they are expanding into the Far East. As emerging market consumers go up the income chain, they want fancier eyeglass frames. Is Siemens (SI) in the same league? Moffett: The Germans do manufacturing well. Their workforce is skilled. They do more than just compete with cheap imports. The Germans have an impressive ability to produce high-quality precision machinery, and Siemens is a great way to play it. They also do x-ray machines and make medical technology, so it's more than just manufacturing machinery. They are a quality, well-run company at a reasonable price.
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