Chiquita's Outlook Sweetened by Free Trade Agreement With Colombia

Includes: CIB, COLX, CQB, GXG
by: Danny Furman

Two weeks ago I spent some time contemplating what might be the best way to play rising food prices. Ultimately, I bought shares of Chiquita Brands (NYSE:CQB), world leader in produce production, marketing and distribution. So far so good, with shares already up about 10% from $14.50 to $16. Jim Rogers' Agriculture ETN (NYSEARCA:RJA) would not have a bad choice either, sitting at $11.43 and up 5% in two weeks.

Chiquita still trades at a favorable valuation relative to peers Dole Foods (NYSE:DOLE) and Fresh Del Monte Produce (NYSE:FDP), which is not surprising given that South America based stocks generally suffer from a lack of investor interest. That makes them all the more appealing to the bargain hunter in me. Exemplified perfectly by the rapid and expansive development of Brazil, the concept of South America as a dangerous place to invest is archaic. Dozens of Brazilian companies trade on major international exchanges and are priced for rapid growth.

There's even a Brazil Small Cap ETF (NYSEARCA:BRF) and it trades at a hefty premium. That is to be expected with 6% GDP growth driven by consumption and production, not money printing. Chile's economy is not far behind.

It appears that Colombia may too join the ranks of the highly regarded South American markets, specifically thanks to a free trade agreement expected to be worked out April 7th.

Investors looking to take advantage of increased, more freely flowing economic activity in Colombia can buy individual stocks like Bancolombia (NYSE:CIB) or Chiquita. ETFs that hold shares of Colombian companies give foreign investors diversification and small cap exposure they can't get otherwise. COLX and GXG look like great long term buys.

Disclosure: I am long CQB.