Top Performing Emerging Markets Through Q3 2010

Via The Global Guru, an interesting analysis of the top performing international markets thus far in 2010.  As the article notes:

“…Using figures published in Britain’s Economist magazine, the top five global stock markets have returned (in U.S. dollar terms) an average of 36.62% through Sept. 22…

#1 Thailand

Thai stocks have been hitting multi-year highs recently — making it the top-performing stock market in the world in 2010. Returns for U.S.-dollar investors also have been boosted by the Thai baht recently to reach a 13-year high.

Since its economy was crushed in the Asian currency crisis of 1998, Thailand has staged an impressive comeback, transforming itself into a magnet for foreign investment. The country is positioning itself as a leading destination for multinationals that are abandoning China. The Thai Finance Ministry recently raised its 2010 economic growth forecast to 7.8%. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is even more optimistic, expecting the Thai economy to grow at a China-like 8% in 2010.

iShares MSCI Thailand Investable Market Index Fund (THD)
versus the S&P 500 over the Last Six Months

#2 Colombia

With a population of 44 million and an economy the size of Indiana, Colombia never will have the economic heft of its larger BRIC rivals. But Colombia’s popular image as a “Scarface”-style “narco” state does not do the country justice. After battling double-digit inflation and 20% unemployment in the early part of the last decade, Colombia introduced economic reforms that have turned around its economy — shrinking its national debt and kick-starting its economic growth.

While many Western economies danced on the precipice of economic collapse during the Great Recession, Colombia’s downturn was mild. And thanks to prudent fiscal finances, by the end of this year, Colombia’s net debt still will equal only about 38% of gross domestic product (GDP). That’s less than half the level it was only four years ago. With the economy expanding at 4.3% in the first half of the year, the governor of Colombia’s central bank is lobbying for an investment-grade rating for Colombia — something Brazil achieved only in 2008.

Global X/InterBolsa FTSE Colombia 20 ETF (GXG)
versus S&P 500 over the Last Six Months

#3 Indonesia

No stock market in the world — except for maybe Brazil — has enjoyed as much of a turnaround in reputation as Indonesia.

As the world’s fourth-largest country with a population of 245 million — bigger than BRIC members Brazil and Russia — Indonesia boasts a young-and-growing demographic. Jakarta, the nation’s capital, is expected to be the largest city in the world within two decades.

Once the sick man of South Asia, economic reforms initiated in 2004 have helped make it official Indonesian policy to add another “I” to the “BRIC” (Brazil, Russia, India and China) acronym. The IMF has forecast that Indonesia will grow 6% this year, up from 4.5% in 2009. The chairman of Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board claims 6% to 7% growth is “pretty much in the pocket.”

No wonder the Indonesian stock market almost has tripled since the lows of the financial crisis.

Market Vectors Indonesia ETF (IDX)
versus the S&P 500 over the Last Six Months

#4 Chile

A small country of 17 million in Latin America, think of Chile as the “anti-Greece” — a model for how a small, developing country should conduct its economic affairs. Chile first introduced free market-oriented reforms with the help of the “Chicago Boys” — a group of University of Chicago-trained economists — in the 1970s. Chile’s economic growth rates quickly began to outpace that of its Latin American rivals, with Chile’s growth in real GDP averaging an Asian Tiger-like 8% during the period 1991-1997. Chile has maintained its momentum, boasting growth rates of 5-7% for most of the past decade — considerably outstripping growth rates in neighboring Brazil. By 2006, Chile had the highest nominal GDP per capita in Latin America. And recently, it was the first Latin American country to join the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), an exclusive club of “developed nations.”

Chile has been the single, most consistent performer among all global markets during the past decade and is a top performer so far in 2010.

iShares MSCI Chile Investable Mkt Idx (ECH)
versus the S&P 500 over the Last Six Months

#5 Malaysia

In many ways, Malaysia is the fifth “Asian Tiger” — a worthy addition to the ranks of the original “Asian Tigers” of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. Malaysia boasts a population of 27 million — a little larger than Texas — and is the second-wealthiest country in all of Southeast Asia — after Singapore.

Like many Asian countries during the past 50 years, Malaysia exerted enormous effort to bootstrap its economy into the modern world. Between 1988 and the Asian crisis of 1997, the Malaysian economy grew at a true Asian-Tiger rate of 9% per year. In many ways, Malaysia was the Dubai of the 1990s. Malaysia’s rapid economic growth and prosperity is best symbolized by the twin Petronas Towers, the headquarters of the national oil giant in Kuala Lumpur and, from 1998 to 2004, the two tallest buildings in the world.

Since its economy stabilized last year, asset prices are back to their pre-1997 crisis heights. Malaysia’s economy is expected to grow 5.6% in 2010 and 5.8% in 2011.

iShares MSCI Malaysia Index (EWM)
versus the S&P 500 over the Last Six Months

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Wildcats & Black Sheep is a personal interest blog dedicated to the identification and evaluation of maverick investment opportunities arising in frontier - and, what some may consider to be, “rogue” or “black sheep” - markets around the world.

Focusing primarily on The New Seven Sisters - the largely state owned petroleum companies from the emerging world that have become key players in the oil & gas industry as identified by Carola Hoyos, Chief Energy Correspondent for The Financial Times - but spanning other nascent opportunities around the globe that may hold potential in the years ahead, Wildcats & Black Sheep is a place for the adventurous to contemplate & evaluate the emerging markets of tomorrow.