James Dennin, Kapitall: Looking to invest in emerging markets? Mexico and South Korea may outperform as the Fed begins tapering. 

Throughout the past decade or so, investors have been bullish on so-called 'emerging markets.' These investment opportunities even got their own nickname - the 'BRIC' countries. A  Goldman Sach's (GS) banker coined the term for the emerging market "sleeping giants" of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

[Read more on Emerging Economies from Kapitall: Chinese Tech Stocks Outperforming BRIC Markets]

When financial crises in America and the Eurozone made other, growing economies more attractive, investors flocked to mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) that focused on Asia and Latin America.

Returns were high, but they were buoyed by China's ascent and high commodity prices. With Chinese development starting to slow down, analysts argue that while emerging economies still have the most room to grow, it's time to be more discriminating when making investing decisions.

As demand for goods in China declines, and the easy money policies of America's Federal Reserve start tapering off, certain economies may be better situated for growth than others. 

The trend is particularly important, because until recently emerging economies were generally lumped together as 'buys' or 'sells' without much regard for specifics. As investors pay closer attention to the data coming out of individual countries, a better market for selling bonds and currencies from these companies is likely to develop.

And some emerging economies will stand out as better equipped for the years to come. This has to do with how much a country is relying on foreign assets for investment – and what they've done with the extra liquidity stemming from American quantitative easing.

According to an analysis from Goldman's economists, two of the healthiest economies looking ahead are South Korea and Mexico.

Different reactions among currencies to the news that tapering could begin soon tells a story in and of itself. India and Indonesia's currencies fell 12% and 11% respectively. The Mexican peso declined less than half as much, and rumors that Mexico's new President Enrique Peña Nieto might relax oil nationalization have driven up optimism even further. South Korea's currency actually climbed, 3.8%. 

Investing ideas

Stock prices usually rise alongside the currency of the country that company is in. This means battered currencies will create a favorable environment for finding undervalued stocks. However, foreign investment is not likely to recover to the same levels as back when nearly everything in the four BRIC countries was deemed a good investment.

As traders in currencies and foreign bonds become more choosy, it becomes more important for you to do the same.

With this in mind, we screened for stocks based in South Korea and Mexico that are traded on US exchanges, since both countries seem least likely to face strong headwinds when QE tapers off.

Our screen looked for strong  projected earnings per share (EPS) growth over the next 5 years, an estimate of how well a company is going to grow in the foreseeable future. We also limited our results to those stocks with a rating of 'buy' or higher from top-side analysts.

We were left with 6 companies on our list. To compare them against emerging markets as a whole, we also included two ETFs that focus on these regions.

Click on the interactive chart to view analyst ratings over time.               

Do you see investment opportunities in emerging markets like Mexico and South Korea? Use the list below as a starting point for your own analysis.

1. Gruma S.A.B. de CV ( GMK): Engages in the production, marketing, distribution, and sale of tortillas, corn flour, wheat flour, and related products. Market cap at $2.74B, most recent closing price at $24.45.

EPS Growth Next 5 Yrs: 41.32%.


2. KB Financial Group, Inc. ( KB): Operates as a holding company for Kookmin Bank that provides various financial products in Korea. Market cap at $15.63B, most recent closing price at $40.56.

EPS Growth Next 5 Yrs: 5.5%.


3.Korea Electric Power Corp. ( KEP): Engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in Korea. Market cap at $16.31B, most recent closing price at $12.85.

EPS Growth Next 5 Yrs: 7.4%.


4. POSCO ( PKX): Engages in the manufacture and sale of steel products in South Korea and internationally. Market cap at $23.49B, most recent closing price at $74.46.

EPS Growth Next 5 Yrs: 10.00%.


5. Empresas ICA, S.A.B. de C.V. ( ICA): Engages in the construction and related activities in Mexico. Market cap at $1.28B, most recent closing price at $8.24.

EPS Growth Next 5 Yrs: 5.5%.


6. MagnaChip Semiconductor Corporation ( MX): Designs and manufactures analog and mixed-signal semiconductor products for high-volume consumer applications. Market cap at $842.08M, most recent closing price at $23.57.

EPS Growth Next 5 Yrs: 23.00%.


7. Guggenheim BRIC ETF ( EEB): This index is comprised of ADRs and GDRs from Brazil, Russia, India and China currently trading on U.S. exchanges. Market cap at $249.8M, most recent closing price at $37.28.

Return YTD: 6.13%. 


8. iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ( FM): The underlying Index is designed to measure equity market performance of a subset frontier market countries that meet minimum liquidity standards. Market capitalization at $334.60, most recent closing price at $32.32.

Return YTD: 22.17%. 



( List compiled by James Dennin, a Kapitall Writer. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research. All other data sourced from Zacks Investment Research.)