Too often, income investors search for dividend yields only within U.S. borders, and many times investors focus on just the domestic telecom and utilities sectors. We decided to shine some light on a few income opportunities outside the U.S. in emerging markets. We ran a screen for emerging market names that yield over 3.5% and we came up with a list of 13 names that span the globe from Argentina to China to Panama and the Philippines. We think this article will offer a useful primer for investors with little experience investing abroad. Of course, because all of these companies are in the developing world, risk of capital erosion is ever present as is a halting/sporadic nature of dividend payments, so please do your own due diligence before you consider investing in any of the names on our list.
We decided to shine some light on a few income opportunities outside the U.S. in emerging markets. We ran a screen for emerging market names that yield over 3.5% and we came up with a list of 13 names that span the globe from Argentina to China to Panama and the Philippines.
We think this article will offer a useful primer for investors with little experience investing abroad.
Of course, because all of these companies are in the developing world, risk of capital erosion is ever present as is a halting/sporadic nature of dividend payments, so please do your own due diligence before you consider investing in any of the names on our list.
Something else foreign dividend investors should consider is that many countries have various tax withholding rates, ranging from 10% in China all the way up to 30% in countries like Sweden and Australia. For a full list of tax withholding rates by country, click here (.pdf).
And finally, unlike the majority of dividend payers in the U.S., some foreign companies pay dividends annually, semiannually or otherwise irregularly in their home currencies, which can impact your compound growth rate if you regularly reinvest your dividends.
For some relatively safer income opportunities, we came up with a list of 10 undervalued, wide-moat dividend “kings” last week that you can read here.
Here’s what we found on these stocks, plus some commentary on each company:
Phillipines Long Distance Telephone Co (PHI): Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company provides a suite of telecommunication products and services to this Southeast Asian nation. Goldman Sachs grouped the Philippines in its “N-11” class of countries that have the highest potential of becoming the world’s largest economies along with the BRICS in the 21st century.
For investors seeking exposure to this fast growing market, PHI offers attractive growth prospects and a very attractive 5.1% yield. And because PHI essentially has a stranglehold on its core market and over 50% market share in the domestic wireless space, we expect it to be able to generate good cash flow and operating profits in the near term. This is a good indicator the company will be able to maintain a dividend payment. The price of this $11B company at the time of writing was $53.50.
Corpbanca S.A. (BCA): $3.5B Corpbanca provides commercial and retail banking services across Chile. As well, Corpbanca also offers insurance, mutual fund management and securities brokerage through a network of subsidiaries. A great way to play Chile’s red hot economy is through its banking sector.
If you’re going to go with one banking stock, we think Corpabanca is it, as it has been the best performer in terms of returns over the past four years. The current dividend yield is 3% after under going a 10:3 split in March of 2011. Shares traded around $24 apiece at the time of writing. BCA is a disciplined bank, in our opinion, and does a solid job keeping its portfolio risk in check.
Alto Palermo S.A. (APSA): This Argentine property manager tore up the markets in the second half of 2010, gaining over 95% between July and February of this year. After a brief rest, the share price climbed another 50% since late April. We think investors are finally catching on to APSA and now see how undervalued shares were earlier this year. APSA engages in the ownership, acquisition, development, leasing, management and operation of shopping centers throughout Argentina with a concentration in the capital, Buenos Aires.
The stock yields 4.4% and traded around $23 at the time of writing. We think shares are a buy as there is plenty of room for continued growth in this name.
Since our last recommendation of APSA, investors who purchased shares would have earned a 50+% return.
Brasil Telecom S.A. (BTM): Westward in Brazil, BTM provides telecommunications services throughout the country. The shares yield 1.80%. Shares traded around $29 apiece. We recommended BTM a few months ago around $23, and think the share price should continue higher.
BTM is still trading below book value, with a price book ratio of 0.81. Dividend growth is likely to continue, though we will warn investors that this foreign telecom has irregular payments due to currency fluctuations in the Brazilian Real and the dividend is tied to profit metrics.
The last three dividends came in at $0.559, $1.101, and $1.331 per share, in 2011, 2010 and 2008, respectively. There was no dividend payment in 2009, however, the effective yield in 2010 was approximately 5.6%. We think this is a solid growth name for those who can wait.
Telecom Argentina (TEO): One of our favorite stocks in the region, Telecom Argentina provides fixed-line telecommunications and 3G mobile coverage among other telephone related services.Additionally, the firm provides cellular services in Paraguay and has about 1.8 million users there. Not only has TEO had excellent EPS, revenue and cash flow growth over the past five years, but its dividend yield is around 5%. The latest dividends in 2011 and 2010 were $1.148 and $0.465 per share.
Though we believe significant regulatory risk exists in Argentina and shares are probably fairly valued at $24, we think growth prospects in the region remain strong and TEO should be on every dividend investors watch list if and when an emerging market correction occurs.
BBVA Banco Frances S.A. (BFR): Another Argentine name on this list, BBVA and its subsidiaries provide banking services to individuals and businesses within Argentina. The company's shares yield 7.60%. The share price at the time of this writing was around $10. The last two dividends came in at $1.11 and 0.682 in 2011 and 2010. The company did not issue a dividend during a bleak year, in 2009. The forward dividend is expected to com in around $0.72 per share.
This $1.8B company has modest debt of $400M and $800M for further dividend increases. Investors should wrap their head around Argentina's inflation rate, which is around 10%. Argentina has lost much credibility in its reporting due to huge divergences in stated inflation (7%) from officials versus private figures that pegged inflation above 20% in that year. BFR should benefit from Argentina's agricultural and industrial export economy as significant loan growth at BFR is a strong possibility over the next few years.
Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior, S.A (BLX): Panama’s dollar-based economy is one of the fastest growing in Latin America, with real GDP growing at over 5% last year. We think BLX is a great way to play the regional growth, plus you get the kicker of a 4.8% yield.
In the quarter that ended in March, 2011, BLX's commercial loan portfolio grew by $1.5B, or a whopping 45% year-over-year. Net income also increased 60% to $16.3M. We think BLX's best quarters are still ahead of it. Significant commercial growth is flourishing in BLX's major markets which should drive continued loan growth. BLX management has a good handle on costs, and we expect to see significant profit growth as well, even if margins are maintained.
BLX is a good bet on Latin America. We think investors should take a look at buying this name.
CPFL Energia S.A. (CPL): A dividend monster, this Brazilian utility yields 7.70% and has been paying out since 2005. For risk tolerant investors seeking exposure to Brazil and its currency, we think CPFL is a great bet. The company serves 6.4 million customers in the states of Sao Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul, and, in total, the company commands a 13% share of Brazil’s power distribution market.
Shares traded at 73.57 at the time of writing. We think CPL is a buy, given increased energy use in CPL's markets. This $13.5B utility garners 13% of Brazil's electric utility market. Shares are a bit rich, in our opinion, with a price-book ratio above 3. We'd like to see a drop in price before entering a position.
CTC Media, Inc (CTCM): This Russian media company is sort of an outlier in this group of mostly banks, utilities and telecom companies. Headquartered in Moscow, CTC Media operates a group of television networks in Russia and the former Russian states.
Shares currently yield 6% based off of a 22 cent dividend in May, 2011, and a 32 cent dividend in November, 2010. The company has no debt. CTCM owns the CTC and Domashny networks of Russia, with approximately 100 million viewers in total. The company dominates its markets, and has a 22% net margin to prove it. We think shares are fairly valued, however, and would wait for a more attractive entry point.
China Nepstar Chain Drugstore (NPD): Nepstar is essentially the Walgreen (WAG) or CVS of China. By number of stores, it’s the largest retail drugstore chain with more than 2,500 retail shops throughout China. Unlike many other drugstores in the mainland, Nepstar provides a more customer friendly experience, which increases customer retention.
The company commands a 2% market share in terms of sales, so room for growth is ample in this fragmented market. Working in such a low margin industry, we think there are risks to Nepstar being able to maintain its dividend, however. The yield on shares was 10%, or 28 cents in 2010; and the 2009 dividend came in at 35 cents. The price/book is a reasonable 1.4 compared to an industry average of 1.9.
Keyuan Petrochemicals (KEYP): Keyuan manufactures and supplies petro chemical products in China. Keyuan recently underwent a reverse merger in April 2010, an action that has garnered some negative press. Shares yield a bit over 7%.
KEYP has a very modest price-book ratio of 0.4 and a P/E a hair above 10. Dividends appear to be paid from retained profits, which brings the sustainability of of high dividend payments into question. Reported operating cash flows from KEYP are a positive $11M, however, if the company has expansion plans then the dividend will be in jeopardy.
YPF S.A. (YPF): This energy company engages in the development, exploration and production of natural gas, crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas in Argentina. The company distributes natural gas to over 8 million customers throughout Latin America and Spain, andhas interests in proven reserves over 5 billion barrels of oil and oil equivalent. Shares currently yield 5.6%.
In 2010, revenue came in at $11.1B, a 23% increase compared to prior year figures. Net income was up 50%, to $2.4B. We think investors have not yet appreciated how much higher oil prices drive YPF's bottom line growth. Shares are likely headed much higher due to higher production and oil prices, even if the price of oil retreats from $100 per barrel.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.