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Hunting in Ignored Corners of the Market

Stocks in this article: BREWBRFSICA

Craft Brew owns a strong portfolio of well-known craft beers, including Red Hook, Kona Brewing and Widmer Brothers. Although I am not much of a beer guy, I have a well-trained team of scouts who are only too happy to do some field research, and I am told that all three brands are well-received by craft-beer aficionados. This is well-positioned company that should do very well as it expands its product line to the Midwest and western parts of the U.S. Given the consolidation among brewers in the past few years, I would not fall out of my chair in shock if Craft Brew sold itself to a larger competitor, at a large premium, at some point in the future.

Meanwhile, in the "all information is useful" classification, take note that some Latin America companies are executing well and growing at a rapid clip -- but are being ignored by U.S. investors. Latin America is an unloved region at the moment, and the sentiment isn't entirely unjustified. Brazil is struggling with its economy and Argentina can generously be called a mess, while Venezuela is on the verge of becoming a full-blown disaster. But this reluctance to venture south of the border may be causing investors to miss some potential gems among growth stocks in the region.

One is Brazil Foods (BRFS), which raises, slaughters and processes large volumes of pork, beef and chicken, and ships them to the global and domestic marketplace. Over the past five years, sales and earnings have climbed at very high rates. The company should be able to grow at a fast pace for many years to come, moreover, given the continued creation of a global middle class and swelling demand for high-quality food.

Mexican Construction Company Empressa ICA (ICA) has seen its shares move higher this year amid impressive 37% earnings growth over the past five years. Such rates are expected to remain strong amid broader Mexican growth, as well, which should call for increased infrastructure and building over the next decade. In spite of all this, institutions own just 6% of the shares. I wouldn't chase the stock, as it's up solidly in the past year.

Still, these two names at least give you some idea of the missed opportunities in the Latin American markets right now. Whether you are a growth investor or a value guy like me, I have found that it pays to look where Wall Street isn't.

At the time of publication, Melvin had no positions in the stocks mentioned.

Tim Melvin is a writer from Stevensville, Maryland, who spent 20 years a stockbroker, the last 15 as a Vice President of Investments with a regional firm in the Mid Atlantic area. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Melvin appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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