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I'm a big fan of investing directly in African stock markets to tap into that continent's growth story. The exchanges in Accra, Lagos, and Nairobi generally offer better bargains than what you find listed on the NYSE or Nasdaq.

That said, it's definitely not for everyone. Opening up foreign brokerage and bank accounts can be a real hassle. It involves extra paperwork, currency conversions, dividend collection issues, and a bit of extra time when tax day rolls around.

So I've put together a list of 17 South African ADRs that you can easily purchase through a discount broker.

While most of them are Pink Sheet listings, they all average trade volumes in excess of $50,000 per day. That's plenty of liquidity for most individual investors.

I excluded mining stocks from the list -- because I don't like them.

17 South African ADRs

CompanyIndustryP/E Ratio (Trailing)Div YieldReturn (5-Year)*
Bidvest (OTCPK:BDVSY)Conglomerate13.93.0%45.6%
Clicks (OTC:CCKRY)Retail22.33.0%217.7%
Massmart (OTCPK:MMRTY)Retail29.72.4%100.5%
MTN (OTCPK:MTNOY)Telecom14.05.0%30.9%
Murray & Roberts (OTCPK:MURZY)ConstructionN/A0.0%-75.6%
Naspers (OTCPK:NPSNY)Media40.80.6%134.1%
Nedbank (OTCPK:NDBKY)Banking12.23.7%39.9%
Net 1 UEPS (NASDAQ:UEPS)Technology6.80.0%-69.4%
Pretoria Portland Cement (OTCPK:PPCYY)Cement17.04.6%-32.8%
Sanlam (OTCPK:SLLDY)Insurance14.03.4%65.0%
Sasol (NYSE:SSL)Energy9.04.6%14.4%
Shoprite (OTCPK:SRHGY)Retail28.21.8%326.3%
Telkom (OTCPK:TLKGY)Telecom5.70.0%-67.1%
Tiger Brands (OTCPK:TBLMY)Food17.22.9%94.5%
Vodacom (VDCMY)Telecom14.66.9%78.5%
Woolworths (OTC:WLWHY)Retail23.23.2%254.8%
*5-year USD return of underlying stock as of 10/2/2012

Interestingly, the stocks above actually outperformed the iShares South Africa Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EZA) by a wide margin over the past five years. EZA gained just 12.9% since October 2007, but the underlying stocks of the above ADRs averaged a 72.3% US$ return over the same time period. For the sake of comparison, the S&P 500 dropped 7.2% during that time.

So, if you're interested in tapping into the growth of the African middle class without excessive exposure to natural resource stocks, give these ADRs a close look.

Disclosure: I am long EZA. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.