Investors Ignore Latin America at Their Own Peril
BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Latin America, which has driven sales for U.S. companies such as Caterpillar (CAT), DuPont (DD) and Southern Copper (SCCO), is one spot where investors are starting to see plenty of growth.
Heiner Skaliks, manager of the Strategic Latin America Fund (SLATX), has an investment-management team on the ground in the heart of South America, where he's finding opportunities at nearly every turn.
"Latin America has been overlooked for the past 20 to 30 years," Skaliks says. "Once you consider the abundance of natural resources that the region has, the growing population, and a higher consumption base to which services and products can be provided to, it is an interesting diversification play for portfolios. There is also a lower than 1-to-1 correlation to U.S. and European markets."
The Strategic Latin America Fund is split nearly in half in terms of allocation, with 41.1% in bonds, and 44.7% in stocks and exchange traded funds. In terms of country weightings, the fund has 47.6% of its assets in Mexico and nearly 28% in Brazil, with smaller weightings in Peru, Chile, Argentina and Colombia. Skaliks favors Brazil for fixed income, and Peru, Mexico and Chile for equities.On the equity side, the fund has holdings in Mexican cement maker Cemex SAB de CV (CX), Mexican wireless company America Movil SAB (AMX), Brazil-based food processor JBS SA and Mexican media company Grupo Televisa (TV). At around $25 million, the Strategic Latin America Fund is small and relatively new. Since its inception in May 2010, the fund is down about 11% through Sept. 30, in line with the benchmark MSCI Latin America IMI Index. Still, Skaliks sees plenty of opportunity in the region even as the eurozone collapses and the U.S continues to struggle. A particular variable that Skaliks is paying close attention to is foreign exchange. The recent strength in the U.S. dollar has been of great interest to Skaliks and his team. "Foreign exchange can be a key driver of value, especially considering the fact that U.S. investors and the fund itself start with the U.S. dollar as a beginning currency and we have to return to that currency," Skaliks says. "Foreign exchange can definitely play a significant variable as far as pricing." -- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston.
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