Italy is usually connected with the so-called 3 F: "fashion, food and furniture". Nevertheless, it is time to update the portrait attempting to include more shades of what we call "the Italian genius". A correct understanding is the first step that allows identifying profitable investment opportunities.
I will focus on the many commonplaces affecting the reputation of Italy, trying to highlight why, as a financial expert and as an Italian citizen, I deeply believe in the value of "Made in Italy". Looking for new investment opportunities means above all to examine the context without prejudices and to invest in the most profitable countries. The Made in Italy luxury companies could be an interesting option.
First of all, we should update the old "3F" paradigm. According to a report issued by the Rome-based think tank Symbola (Foundation for Italian Quality), Italy should look itself in the mirror. The title of the report is in fact "Italy in 10 selfies" and it is maybe the best photograph of the "new economy" which will enable the growth of our country in the next decades. According to the report, the green economy will be one of the leading forces which will avoid a jobless recovery after these difficult years of recession.
At the same time, we should not forget that Italy is one of the only five countries in the world which has recorded a positive manufactory export surplus, $134 billion in 2014, whereas it was worth only $ 113 in 2012. The competiveness of the Italian companies is steadily improving thanks to the increasing attention devoted to energy efficiency. Italy, for example, is the country which has the largest share of solar energy in its energy mix. The furniture industry is the second in the world for commercial surplus and the leading one at the European level for R&D investments.
Italy is the No. 1 country as far as distinctive food products are concerned, but also at the forefront in the nautical sector (one fifth of the global export volume). The so-called "cultural sector" is made of 443.000 companies, which employ more than 1,4 million people. According to the survey, 63,5% of them have devoted resources to their self-improvement, recording better results. Excellence is not enough: sustainability and innovation are the real assets of our country.
The update of the "3F" paradigm should not overshadow the uniqueness of the fashion sector. This has been recently showed at the Florence Pitti Immagine Festival (12th-15th January), the most important Italian event in the menswear sector. Sistema Moda Italia presented in this framework the 2015 data: the global turnover has increased by 1,8%, reaching EU 9 billion. 63% of the total revenues are linked to export.
The performance in the European Union markets has been impressive, recording an increase of 3,3%. The United States is now the first destination of Italian menswear products, whereas France is in the second position. The export to the United States has increased last year by 16,2%. Germany (+4,8%), United Kingdom (+8,9%) and Spain (+10%) are the countries in which Italian fashion products for men are the most appreciated ones. In pole position, shirts and ties.
Ties are the protagonists of an interesting story from Naples. Last summer the historic Neapolitan tie company Isaia decided to use two mini-bonds in order to collect capitals and further strengthen its activities. With revenues for EU 38 million, the small company managed by the third generation of the Isaia family sells ties all over the world. More than 95% of the total revenues are due to export. Isaia is an example of the secret behind the success of Made in Italy: tradition, quality and capacity to operate in the international markets.
This is why investing in such companies is a good choice. Italy is an economy in constant evolution, in which the fashion sector has always been characterized by positive results. The Isaia case shows that all companies, especially the small ones, are looking for capitals in order to fuel their development. Are investors ready?
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.