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By Tracey Ryniec

Latin America is hot. Even as the rest of the global economy appears to be slowing, Latin American countries saw growth in 2012 and are expected to see even stronger growth in 2013.

Here are some of the GDP projections for 2013:

Colombia: between 2% and 5%

Brazil: rebounding to 4%

Mexico: between 3.8% and 4.1%

Chile: 4.8%

Panama: 6.3%

The top question I always get asked is, "what Latin American stocks can I buy to play this growth?"

If only it were that easy.

There simply aren't that many Latin American stocks traded on the American exchanges.

On the NYSE, for instance, there are only about 77 Latin American companies listed. That's why many investors simply throw in the towel and buy a mutual fund or an ETF.

But you're in luck this year if you're looking for individual stocks to buy because 3 Latin American companies went IPO this year providing even further choices.

Investors Must Have Patience Regarding Zacks Earnings Information

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that because these companies are completely new on the exchanges this year, there is a lot less earnings information. There is simply no track record yet. Some companies have only reported one time since going public and others haven't reported yet at all.

Additionally, for those with analyst coverage, there are few estimates so far. Even for foreign companies listed for years, there are fewer covering analysts. There is simply less coverage on foreign companies. So it's going to take some time to get information rolling in on these newly listed companies.

But, that doesn't mean there aren't investing opportunities. Two of these three companies already have estimates and a Zacks Rank. The third is simply too new.

Not Everything Is About Brazil

While Brazil has been the hot spot for investors over the last five years, these three companies represent a broader perspective on Latin America with their headquarters in Peru, Mexico, and Chile. Look beyond Brazil for investing opportunities.

3 Latin American Companies You Can Now Own

  1. Cementos Pacasmayo (NYSE:CPAC)
  2. Cencosud (NYSE:CNCO)
  3. Santander Mexico (NYSE:BSMX)

Cementos Pacasmayo S.A.A.

Cementos makes cement and cement-related materials like concrete blocks and ready-mix concrete. Operating for more than 54 years, the Peru-based company listed on the NYSE in February 2012. It's a small cap with a market cap of just $1.4 billion.

On Oct 30, the company reported its third-quarter results and beat the Zacks Consensus by 3 cents. It was the first quarter in which Zacks had a consensus estimate. Sales of goods rose 19% in the quarter. For the first 9 months of the year, cement sales volume climbed 17.5% compared to the first 9 months of 2011.

The one covering analyst is expecting double-digit earnings growth in both 2012 and 2013 of 81.5% and 14.3%, respectively. Shares are currently trading with a forward P/E of 22.4.

It is a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).

Cencosud S.A.

Cencosud is one of the largest retailers in Latin America. With headquarters in Chile, it operates supermarkets, home improvement stores, shopping centers and department stores in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Peru. On August 31, the company announced it opened Costanera Center, the largest shopping mall in South America, in Santiago, Chile.

Cencosud was listed on the NYSE in June 2012. With a market cap of $13.4 billion, it is among the larger Latin American companies to be listed.

On October 19, Cencosud expanded its reach by acquiring French retailer Carrefour's operations in Colombia for $2.6 billion. Carrefour operated 72 hypermarkets, 16 convenience stores and four cash-and-carry stores.

The company is scheduled to report its third-quarter results on December 1. But in the second quarter it saw revenue rise 22% and double-digit same-store sales in Argentina.

There is also only one estimate for 2012 and 2013 on Cencosud. There hasn't yet been a consensus for a quarter. But the one covering analyst expects earnings growth of 22.2% in 2013. Shareholders also get a dividend which is yielding 2.1%.

It is a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).

Grupo Financiero Santander Mexico, S.A.B. de C.V.

Santander Mexico is one of Mexico's largest banks with 1,123 branches throughout Mexico. It provides retail and commercial banking, securities brokerage and financial advisory services to both individuals and corporations.

This is the newest of the group, having gone public in September 2012. Zacks does not yet have estimate data on the company because the IPO is too recent. It might take a few months for analysts to take up coverage and for data to come in. With a market cap of $19.3 billion, I would expect some analyst coverage.

On Octpber 25, the bank reported its third quarter results. It saw a 14.9% year-on-year increase in net interest income and 28.6% growth in both consumer loans and credit cards. Loans to small and medium enterprises also climbed 78.4%.

There's no Zacks Rank yet.

Read the full analyst report on CPAC (email registration required)

Read the full analyst report on CNCO (email registration required)

Read the full analyst report on BSMX (email registration required)

Source: 3 New Latin American Stocks