To be sure, firm demand from consumers haven't kept telecom Italia from posting revenue shortfalls. EU regulators have reduced the amount of fees a mobile phone operator can charge for handling calls over their network. As a result, Telecom Italia likely saw sales fall around 1% in 2012 (to around $39.2 billion). (And sales would have fallen further were it not for the double-digit gains posted by the company's Brazilian and Argentinean divisions).
Thanks to a tight focus on costs, Telecom Italia should remain nicely profitable. And a fairly low payout ratio in the 30% range means the current dividend payments are safe. Looking for the best yield? Focus on Telecom Italia's class Preferred shares, which go under the ticker symbol TI-A. Those shares currently yield more than 8%.
South America is fast becoming the "bread basket of the world" with its prodigious agricultural production. And Argentina-based Cresud
, is the most direct way for U.S. investors play the trend. Cresud grows wheat, sorghum, sunflowers, beef and dairy products on farms spread across both Argentina and Brazil.
A growth-through-acquisition strategy has really paid off for Cresud, as sales have risen from $345 million in fiscal (June) 2008 to nearly $3.5 billion in fiscal 2012. Management has done a nice job of balancing growth investments against a solid and growing dividend yield. The current yield works out to be 5.8%.
We may be looking at another year of drought in the U.S. in 2013, which would have the effect of boosting global crop prices (as supply fails to meet demand), and creating a profit windfall for South American farmers as they fill the gap left by U.S. exporters. That backdrop explains why analysts think Cresud's per share profits will more than double in 2013 to $0.72 a share, and perhaps exceed $1 a share by 2014.
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