Aside from emerging market ETFs and commodities producers, it's been hard to recommend buying stocks in the current financial climate. Consumption, incomes and other vital components of the United States' economy are sustained by federal stimulus and Federal Reserve asset buying, neither of which can continue much longer at current levels without a major loss of faith in the US dollar.
The Dow Jones and NASDAQ had an off week to start May, while foreign stocks suffered a bit more and commodities got slugged in the proverbial gut. The concept of value may be creeping back into investing circles, following an extended period of unhindered asset appreciation and dollar devaluation.
With so much of the ever-globalizing world economy intertwined and codependent, companies with operations focused on a domestic audience, and experiencing organic top and bottom line growth, are becoming fewer and farther apart. When looking at foreign stocks, investors are well served to avoid companies that have recently gone public or changed listings from one exchange to another and those being accused of fraud or other crimes. Owners of China Media Express (CCME), Duoyuan Global Water (DGW), Fuqi International (FUQI), Rino International (RINO) and other, mostly Chinese, profit-reporting small caps have learned the hard way, that what looks too good to be true often is.
Still, developed economies are debt laden and struggling to orchestrate growth while many emerging economies are cashing in on booming commodities prices and innovating new growth industries. Investors, therefore, have good reason to devote much of their time and portfolios to emerging market stocks. Besides an extensive, profitable operating history, a stable, growing and comfortably afforded dividend is a must when investing long term in a foreign stock.
Almost every stock that fits the rough criteria prescribed above is an utility company. Many have been hit hard in the recent sell off and the following represent three attractive value, growth and immediate income opportunities in a market still loaded with froth:
1. China Mobil (CHL): Japan's DTT Docomo (DCM) and Nippon T&T (NTT) have hardly taken hits since the tsunami and nuclear disaster induced chaos began there two months ago. AT&T (T) is up huge on recent merger excitement and debt riddled France Telecom (FTE) currently trades near the top of its 52-week range. China Mobil, unlike the aforementioned telecos, has grown profits and revenues each of the last four years. CHL trades at the bottom of its 52-week range, with a trailing P/E of 10, and is going ex-dividend May 11 and 13 for payments totaling $2.62, over 5% of the current share price.
2. Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri (TKC): If China ain't your cup of tea but high yields and international diversification are, TKC may be the telecommunications stock for your portfolio. Turkey has a robust economy and has long been courted by the eurozone. TKC goes ex-dividend this month, for a payment of 60 cents per share. The stock traded near $20/share in late 2010 and currently, at $14.32, yields over 4%.
3. Enersis (ENI): South American economies, namely Chile and Brazil, have managed to grow at rapid rates thanks largely to natural resource wealth. Enersis, a Chilean electricity provider with operations in neighboring countries, has tripled quarterly profits over the last five years while revenues have consistently grown to double over the same period. The stock goes ex-dividend May 9th for $2.90, or 13%, per $21 share.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.