On Frontier Markets and Niche Investments

 |  Includes: AFK, BLERF, EEM, VNM
by: Roger Nusbaum

First up is this interview with Mark Mobius for Hard Assets Investor. Mobius said his four favorite frontier markets are Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Nigeria. The story in Vietnam is mostly about demographics, and he likes Kazakhstan for resources, Ukraine for farming and Nigeria not for oil but for banking and consumer products.

Accessing Vietnam is pretty easy with the Market Vectors Vietnam ETF (NYSEARCA:VNM). Interestingly, it looks to me like it has had a negative correlation to the iShares Emerging Market ETF (NYSEARCA:EEM) for the last three months.

I've mentioned Kazakhstan several times over the years as having big corruption problems and also the potential to become incredibly wealthy from increased resources demand. One way in is through Kazakhmys, which has the ADR symbol KZMYY, but it looks as though it has not traded since May 5, so that might not be the best symbol to use. The primary listing is in London where it trades plenty of volume.

The Ukraine is very difficult to access directly but there is one stock listed in Sweden that owns farmland in the Ukraine: Trigon Agri (TRAGF), which also has subsidiaries in Estonia, Russia and Cyprus. One oddity is Black Earth Farming (OTC:BLERF), which is also listed in Sweden with most of its farming in Russia and also a subsidiary in Cyprus. Both stocks would be very difficult to trade.

Nigeria is one I haven't studied at all. The Market Vectors Africa Index ETF (NYSEARCA:AFK) has 18% in Nigeria.

Next up is an interview with Seth Klarman for Advisor Perspectives that covers a lot of ground. One line that made a big impression on me was, "the pressure to be fully invested was the undoing of many managers during the financial crisis." If you are an advisor you want a client who is impatient not scared. If you are a do-it-yourselfer you are far better off being impatient than scared. The difference between the two is very powerful.

Yesterday I was reading something and there was a mention that rhodium was now investable for retail but there was no ticker symbol provided. A rhodium ETF would be a great case study for whether or not investment demand can actually wag the dog or not. So it turns out that there is not an exchange traded product but this was a reference to actually buying some rhodium from Kitco. According to the site you can buy "pure rhodium powder in a convenient, tamper-proof bottle" for $2930 (as of the last time I looked) per ounce.