Top 10 International Stocks to Buy Now
The overseas markets in Brazil, China, Russia and even Norway have primarily grown due to the strong demand for commodities. Companies formerly unknown to us are now household names. Indeed the likes of RIO, BHP, PTR, RTP, STO and others have seen gigantic returns over the last 3 years, and by most accounts, the run is not over.
While it would be much easier to write and recommend such stocks, I want to shy away as much as possible from these names, in order to keep this post both interesting and profitable for readers. Additionally, I have also tried to stay away from listing banks in emerging markets. As countries like India, China, Poland, Chile and Vietnam (among others) mature financially, the banks in all these markets should do well with the increasing popularity of financing, mortgages and credit cards, increased consumer wealth and spending, appreciating local currencies and higher foreign investment. Finally, I avoided airlines like GOL, LFL and CPA, that I have liked myself, but have had huge runs and might run into some headwinds on oil price increases. No sir, the stocks mentioned here are not no brainers and are sometimes not given their due coverage in popular media, but I believe they are solid growth stocks that should outperform the iShares Emerging Markets index (EEM) over the next year or so.
H&M (Sweden) – This Ikea of specialty retail is quite a phenomenon. In Pasadena, CA, lines of twenty and thirty somethings run out around the store. The company trades on pink sheets under the ticker HMRZF but this should not prevent investors from buying. H&M employs over 60,000 people to operate over 1400 stores in 28 countries, yet only 118 of these stores are in the US, primarily on the east coast. The company has big plans for expansion towards the west in both US and Canada, and recently opened 2 stores in China, and 1 in Hong Kong. With Kylie Minogue as their icon for new swimwear, Australia is probably just around the corner. The company’s philosophy is to provide fashion and quality at the best price and they are able to do that by using independent suppliers in Asia and Europe rather than running its own factories. Additionally, its biggest market, Germany, is the fastest growing non-emerging market in Europe. Back in March, I briefly mentioned this stock. Since then it is up approximately 15%. Another 15% this year would not be out of the question.
Nintendo (Japan) – I first blogged about this stock back in January when it was under $32. Since then, on the heels of 40-50% growth and intense Wii and DS demand, the stock (NTDOY) has run up almost 30%. I still like this stock as Wii consoles are still hard to find and new titles are being released regularly.
Veolia (France) – My case for water stocks now is even more compelling now than it was last year when I called water the next oil and with exposure to over 50 countries, a significant presence in developing countries like China, and clean water’s supply-demand conundrum, Veolia (VE) is poised to do well over the long run. The stock has had a very pleasant run over the last 12 months, with gains of about 60%, but clean drinking water remains a problem that will become worse every year.
Sasol (South Africa) – Sasol is a lesser known energy giant, which has developed world-leading technology for the commercial production of synthetic fuels and chemicals from low-grade coal as well as the conversion of natural gas to environment-friendly fuels and chemicals. Along with oil and natural gas, the company also produces diesel and liquid gas. Headquartered in South Africa, SSL has access to the growing Africa markets, and maintains a steady presence in Europe, Asia and Australia. Currently, the stock trades at less than 10 times earnings, and offers a $2.50 dividend. The company has a dominant position in the business of converting coal to gas and is one of the few players that can do it well. With coal in abundance (and Sasol owns coal reserves all over Africa), the process of using coal for gas is a fruitful and profitable venture with a bright future. Apparently, SSL’s management thinks so because the company recently bought back 1.2% of their outstanding shares at under $33 per share as part of a 3% share re-purchase program. The stock is down 10% from a recent high of around $39.50 due to some problems at their Oryx GTL (gas-to-liquid) plant in Qatar, but these issues will be fixed soon. According to Motley Fool:
- In 2006, Sasol pulled in roughly $2 billion in net income from continuing operations on roughly $10 billion in revenues.
- The company, which operates in 30 countries and recently opened offices in China and India, sees its patented gas-to-liquid (GTL) and coal-to-liquid (CTL) technologies as a potentially huge driver of long-term growth.
- The CTL technology, in particular, could catch on in the U.S. given our vast coal deposits, growing desire for energy independence, and sustained high energy prices.
- Sasol has been in talks with at least two U.S. governors of coal-rich states who have expressed an interest in Sasol’s patented CTL technologies. Should the technology gain traction in the U.S., Sasol’s shareholders would likely be richly rewarded.
In addition, Sasol has an enviable return on equity of greater than 27% and a PEG ratio of 0.7. The stock is a buy at these levels.
Nice Systems (Israel) – NICE is a defense company that specializes in video surveillance for land security, along with analytics and software tools for security. It is a relatively small cap stock, with no debt and is growing revenue and EPS at 32% and 23% respectively.
Turkcell (Turkey) – If you believe that Turkey will be added to the EU at some point over the next few years, and democracy will prevail, TKC is definitely for you. If not, TKC is still a good bet. The wireless telecommunications providers serves over 31 million customers and grew earnings 45% in its most recent quarter. With strong cash flow, a PEG ratio just under 1, and returns on equity at 25%, TKC is currently valued at a mere 11 times earnings. Buy!
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories (India) - In their most recently announced fourth quarter this Indian generic drug maker (RDY) reversed losses from a year ago by posting $75 million in earnings on revenues of $361 million, which itself is twice the amount of revenues from their 4th quarter last year. Increase in overseas market sales was the primary contributor to their earnings growth. On the heels of the earnings report, JP Morgan upgraded the stock to neutral from underweight. The company did forecast lower earnings for the next fiscal year, due to some one-time gains this year, but new products should help the company’s earnings going forward.
Tenaris (Luxembourg) – TS is a maker of steel pipes including for the oil and gas industry. Their last quarter was less than stellar, however demand for their products remain strong and the Hydril acquisition gives them access to more diverse markets. I have been recommending this stock for the last year or so and still like it here.
Potash Corp. (Canada) – POT engages in the production and sale of fertilizers, and related industrial and feed products. The company manufactures and sells fertilizers; animal feed supplements; and industrial acid, which is used in food products and industrial processes. With emerging markets getting richer, climatic changes wreaking havoc on crops worldwide, and an increasing world population, the agriculture play is in its early stages by Potash’s CEO’s own admission. The stock is not cheap by any means but quality comes for a price. Most recently, the company grew earnings by 57.8% and this is reflected in its stock market gains. The stock of this agriculture play is up over 160% in the last year. Since July of 2006, POT has not dipped below its 50 day moving average. Needless to say, the stock is ahead of itself, but I recommend buying on any pull back.
My wild card international pick is Webzen (South Korea). WZEN is a developer and distributor of online games in Asia. It is a micro-cap speculative stock that is not for the risk averse investor. With close to $9 cash, the company has some cushion for further losses. Yes indeed the company has yet to make money. The company is expected to make 28 cents per share in 2008 but this is projected by the one and only analyst that follows the stock. With a market cap close to $50 million, this is one of those opportunities that could really make you some money if the company continues to develop popular games. The market for online video games in Asia is huge and we are in the first inning.
– Faisal Laljee
Full Disclosure: I own NTDOY and HMRZF, but my position can change anytime without notice.