Editor's note: As part of our partnership with PBS's Nightly Business Report, TheStreet's Debra Borchardt will appear on NBR Tuesday (check local listings) to discuss why emerging and frontier markets should be part of every investor's portfolio.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Some investors may be flocking to U.S. government bonds for safety, but all they are finding is a 10-year Treasury note paying little more than 2%. Shorter durations hardly cover the cost of an account.
The U.S. equity market giveth, but just as quickly taketh away.
This is causing many to look to emerging markets for growth. Over the past 12 months emerging market stocks are up 21% versus the S&P 500, which climbed 9% over the same period. While most emerging markets companies can't be purchased on U.S. exchanges, there are exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that give investors access to emerging markets stocks and a way to offset poor performance in other areas of their portfolios.
But not all emerging markets are created equal. In fact, returns on the "big seven" emerging markets all declined in August while "frontier markets" like Thailand and Indonesia become the top performers.
Frontier markets are what India and China were 20 years ago. The Thailand index is up 25% year-to-date and is best represented by the
iShares MSCI Thai ETF
. It is "buy" rated by TheStreet Ratings. While the country does continue to suffer from political upheaval, the Tai baht climbed to a 13-year high after the government raised its 2010 economic growth forecast for the third time in six months.
The Indonesia index delivered 16% return year-to-date. Southeast Asia's biggest economy has grown 4.55% over the past year and is on track to expand another 6% due to a stable rupiah. The Indonesian rupiah is up 24% versus the U.S. dollar. TheStreet's rating team likes the
Market Vectors Indonesia Index ETF
, giving it an A+ rating for eight consecutive months. The ETF tanked in March of 2009, but has skyrocketed back, climbing 313%.
While the U.S. struggles, other frontier markets like Turkey have seen an enviable 10.3% economic growth rate for the second quarter. This growth explains how a two-year high in confidence has caused consumers to buy cars, homes and other purchases. Turkey's ISE National 100 index is at a record high. TheStreet ratings team likes the
iShares MSCI Turkey
which is buy-rated.
Several emerging market analysts expect that these markets will continue to move higher and have called for break outs to new highs in the fourth quarter. A portion of every portfolio should have some exposure to emerging markets. A small allocation can deliver big results.
--Written by Debra Borchardt in New York.
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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.