NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Latin American stocks have underperformed U.S. shares in the past three months, with the iShares S&P Latin America 40 Index ETF (ILF) returning barely 1% versus a 9.5% increase in the S&P 500. But some fund managers say select Latin American companies may rebound once commodity demand strengthens."We are looking at Latin America and focusing on Brazil in particular because the country has displayed fiscal and monetary restraint in the last few years, providing a more stable investment environment. Plus, the abundance of natural resources in Brazil makes it a long-term secular play with regards to increasing Chinese demand," says Paul Attwood, manager of the Huntington Global Select Markets Fund ( HGSAX). TheStreet searched for lucrative Latin American stocks with Attwood and David Marcus, manager of the Evermore Global Value Fund ( EVGBX). Coca-Cola Femsa ( KOF) Mexico-based Coca-Cola Femsa bottles and distributes Coke products across Central and South America. The company has a $15 billion market cap and carries about $500 million in debt. In Marcus' view, the company has a track record of success, and he is also a fan of the ownership structure, which includes a 32% stake by the Coca Cola Co. ( KO). "This is the world's largest Coca Cola bottler outside the U.S and an excellent way to play consumer spending in emerging markets," says Marcus, who adds that it dominates Mexico now, but will soon take over the rest of Latin America. "The potential for growth in Brazil, Panama and Columbia is huge. They recently signed a deal with the Coca Cola Co. to sell noncarbonated beverages including juices and sports drinks throughout Latin America," says Marcus.
Petrobras ( PBR) Brazil-based Petrobras is a $232 billion market cap oil and gas exploration and production company. It's also the most powerful company in an increasingly powerful economy. And its growing stronger says Marcus due to its significant reserves which could grow rapidly as more oil is discovered in the waters off Brazil. A significant unknown is the price that Petrobras will have to pay to the Brazilian government to acquire future reserves and the cost to develop those reserves. But with a 2011 earnings multiple of 11, Marcus says the risk is worth it. "No matter how you look at it, we are getting one of the largest oil companies and reserves in the world at a very attractive price," he says.
Vale ( VALE) Formerly known as Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, Brazil-based Vale operates as a diversified metals and mining company worldwide. The company produces iron ore and iron ore pellets, nickel, manganese ore, ferroalloys, kaolin and pig iron. It also engages in producing bauxite, alumina, aluminum, copper, metallurgical and thermal coal. And that's not all. The company also digs for metallurgical coke and methanol, cobalt, potash and other non-ferrous minerals, as well as precious metals, including gold and silver. Vale helps transport and use the commodities as well. It operates a logistics system in Brazil, including railroads, maritime terminals and a port. Further, it engages in power generation and steel manufacturing. "The company fits the long-term secular trends that exist in the emerging markets, namely the need for wide-scale construction projects and burgeoning industrial demand. Valuation is extremely attractive at 8 times 2011 earnings estimates with an expected 30% growth in revenues," says Atwood.